Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Trees need water, especially during this heat

It's hot out there -- don't forgot that your trees need water. Via DCist is this helpful reminder from Casey Trees, an environmental nonprofit focusing on trees in DC, that trees need about 25 gallons of water a week (that's about 1.5 inches of rain). Plus if there are tree boxes in front of your house, it's your responsibility to water them.

Casey Trees has a tree watering guide and also this cool map, below, of street trees in DC.

Trees, as you probably know, help the environment by taking in greenhouse gases, plus they help keep the area cooler in hot weather and warmer in cold weather, increase property value, and they're nice to look at.

Interestingly, it looks like a lot of our streets have only one type of tree. And Oak Street has mainly maples:
Acer (Maple)
Quercus (Oak)
Ulmus (Elm)
Platanus (Sycamore)
Other (All Other Genera)

Neighborhood cleanup this Saturday the 4th, and brunch after

If you want to do something for your community, check this out:
When:   Saturday, June 4th - 9:30 am to 10:30 am
Where:  Meet outside CH Coffee, 11th & Park Road
Bring:     Yourselves and gloves if you have them (we'll have gloves and bags as well)
Clean UP Flyer

The pool is open on weekends, and it's crowded

I went to the Banneker pool yesterday at Georgia and Euclid and it was completely mobbed. When we got there at about 4 pm there was a line out the door and they were waiting for people to leave before more could come in.

Once we got inside it was crazy -- the kids' side was packed and loud and the rest was pretty full. Every few minutes a ball would fly by our heads, which I thought was funny but most others may not. Both diving boards are open, at least, which is something I didn't see much last year.

So in short, you may want to wait until it's open during the week (June 21 is the first day) or try another pool.

Friday, May 27, 2011

This week's Columbia Heights Community Marketplace update

The CHCM is tomorrow from 9am-2pm, and here's what's new with them:
I. FESTIBUCKS: We accept SNAP (Food Stamps), but we go even better by giving away, free, Festibucks to double the value of SNAP purchases. This helps recipients purchase more great fresh and local food at the Marketplace. Please go to the information table under the small orange canopy to process Food Stamp purchases and then get free Festibucks to buy more food from our 14 fantastic food producers. We also offer free Festibucks to Marketplace patrons who have WIC, Senior FMNP "Get Fresh Checks" and Cash Value Checks. In this case, first purchase fruits and vegetables from our five (5) produce growers, all of whom are eligible to accept WIC, and then take receipt from the purchase to the Marketplace's orange canopy to get Festibucks. 
II. Entertainment: Members of Universal Capoeira Angola Center (universalcapoeira.org) will be playing capoeira instruments from 11:30 to 12:30
III. Non-profit at the Marketplace: 826DC (http://826dc.org) will be at the Marketplace on Saturday to talk about its educational offerings.
IV. Six local artists, including painters and jewelry makers, will be at the Marketplace.
V. All of our 14 FOOD vendors grow or produce their food within 150 miles of Washington, D.C.
Plus lots of food: greens, asparagus, radishes, herbs, strawberries, onions, spinach, tomatoes, flowers, rhubarb, apples, apple cider, pork, chicken, sausages, goat cheese, eggs, and bread.

Here's the full update, which includes more detail on what's available and even a couple recipes with food from the market: glazed strawberry rhubarb pie and pork with rhubarb sauce. Sounds good to me.

And Old School Hardware in Mt. Pleasant (who advertise here too) will be helping to sponsor the live entertainment this weekend.

Outdoor city pools open Saturday at noon!

Just in time for the hot weather, I called the Department of Parks and Recreation and they confirmed that city pools open at noon tomorrow. The closest one to our area is the Banneker pool at Georgia and Euclid, and it's pretty fun.

Here's the DPR pools website.

UPDATE: The pools are open to noon to 6 pm Saturday, Sunday, and Monday and are free if you can prove DC residence (driver's license, voter card, mail addressed to you, etc.) They're closed on weekdays until June 21.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

No changes to Ward 1 in proposed redistricting

Looks like Columbia Heights is staying put.

You may have heard how the city is required to redraw ward boundaries due to the census: basically Wards 2 and 6 got bigger, and there's a law in place that all the wards have to have roughly the same populations.

There was some talk that Columbia Heights would be split or other scenarios that would affect Ward 1, but it looks like we're safe: the proposed borders from the city are the same for our ward. Here's a closer version, which inexplicably doesn't include old boundaries, but they're the same.

New taqueria coming to Georgia Ave: Mama Chuy DC

PoP has the news that a new taqueria called Mama Chuy DC is coming to 2620 Georgia Avenue NW (south of Fairmont) where the Philadelphia Water Ice Factory used to be.

They'll have 32 seats total with 16 on a patio and their Tumblr has lots more info: a brother and sister are opening it, they're hoping to open in mid-to-late June, they have a big grill, have applied for a liquor license, and are using recipes passed down from the restaurant's namesake, their grandma, who seems like a cool lady. Plus that's got to be the first restaurant with a Tumblr in DC.

They're on Twitter too, and have an under construction website.

The water ice place always seemed to be closed whenever I went by, and the new taqueria sounds pretty cool, so I'm looking forward to it. Here's the location.

Ellwood Thompson's now in talks to spend 3 years talking about moving to Rockville, then not doing it

This is only tangentially Columbia Heights-related, but I thought it was worth writing about anyway. Ellwood Thompson's, the Richmond-based organic supermarket that told us numerous times they were about to move into DCUSA, and then didn't, is apparently in talks to move into Rockville Town Center.

Apparently the store previously had a second location in Chesterfield County outside Richmond, but closed it after 8 months.

Good luck with that, Rockville.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

New book by Room 11's Dan Searing

Dan Searing, co-owner and former head bartender of Room 11, has a new book out about alcoholic punch. Searing, who also used to work at Temperance Hall (which became the Looking Glass Lounge) gathered a following for his Punch Club gartherings where he and friends would make different kinds of punches, some new and some classic.

As Searing told the Post, "Punch is a naturally hospitable drink" more about bringing together people to talk. He's made some great punches over the years at Room 11, and the book includes 50 traditional recipes and 25 originals. Sounds good to me.

Room 11 is also planning to have a punch party sometime this summer. I'm there. And if you haven't been there before, check it out, it's a great little place.

Room 11 is at 3234 11th Street NW. Here's their website.

Sorry realtors, 2nd and Upshur isn't Columbia Heights

Looks like Columbia Heights has hit an important milestone: the neighborhood is now so trendy that realtors will exaggerate its boundaries to make their houses seem more appealing. This has been common for a long time with desirable neighborhoods, for example saying a place in Glover Park is in Georgetown or calling the area near RFK Stadium Capitol Hill.

The best (worst) example I've seen so far is this ad (since expired) that was for a place at 2nd and Upshur that said it's in Columbia Heights. Not even close, guys.

Another, more reasonable one is this one that says Petworth/Columbia Heights for a place at Georgia and Upshur, which is still pretty far even if you stretch the neighborhood's boundaries. Other ads, like this one, tout their short drive to Columbia Heights and Adams Morgan, while still others say Petworth (N. of Columbia Heights).

We've hit the big time, folks! Seen any other ridiculous ones?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Awesome kid interviewed at Meridian Hill Park

The People's District blog, which does interviews with people around the city, has a hilarious piece with a kid at Meridian Hill Park. Here's the interview in its entirety: good stuff.
“My name is Alycea. I am five-years-old and I go to elementary school. I like school because we learn about math and can dance during music time. We also learn about stuff in the world. Did you know that there were earthquakes in Haiti and Japan?
“I have never been to an earthquake before, but I learned that they happen when the earth breaks apart and things start shaking. We also learned about the tornadoes in Alabama. I have never been to a tornado either. I guess that all of those things happen far away from Washington.
“That’s good because it would make the children here scared. Did you know that we have lots of buildings in Washington? One of those buildings is my home and one is your home. The president also lives here with some other famous people. If those buildings fell down, we would all be in big trouble. That’s why I don’t want to go to Haiti or Japan. I just want to go to my grandma’s house and cook pizza and cake. Those are my favorite foods.
“I want to tell all of the kids in Washington not to worry about tornadoes and earthquakes because if they come here, I will punch them in the face. I will punch them and then step on them so they won’t knock our buildings down.”
“Now can I ask you some questions? Have you ever seen an orangutan eat his own poop at the zoo? Have you ever had a baby in your stomach? Have you ever put cake on your pizza?”

11th and Monroe Street park construction to start in June

Looks like the 11th and Monroe Street Park reconstruction will finally get underway. The park has had issues with drunk people hanging around and harassing parkgoers and also lead contamination, and the new designs are supposed to make it more family- and kid-friendly. Here's a note form the city:
More specifically, we are finishing construction documents and have begun the permitting process. At this point, we expect construction to begin by mid-June.
We plan on hosting a community meeting prior to the start of construction to review the final plan as well as the construction schedule...
Here's the design. What do you think?

Monday, May 23, 2011

More on DC Reynolds, new bar coming to Georgia Avenue with big outdoor area

Last week I wrote about DC Reynolds, the new bar coming to 3628 Georgia Avenue NW, a few doors down from Looking Glass and the Blue Banana. I got in touch with the owner and got some more information:
DC Reynolds isn't a person, it's an homage of sorts to a place we went to, worked at, and lost in Fairfax City. TT Reynolds was a neighborhood bar for 30 years before it lost its lease about 3 years ago. We loved the place and the vibe of it. We refereed to it more as a community center than a bar or restaurant. A "cheers" if you will. So we wanted to get back to that sort of project. The 4 C's Comfortable, Casual, Consistent, and Cheap.

We really like the outdoor summer garden behind the space, our architect can fit in 120 people but I don't think we will try for that many. We want to make that a sort of Garden of Eden feel with some ivy, trees, or shrubs, basically a way to make it seem like you aren't behind an old building on Georgia ave and next to an alley. Inside, exposed brick, pallet wood flooring, and dim lights will be the norm on the 2 levels. Almost everything we are putting into the building has been reclaimed from other closed restaurants to give the feel that DC Reynolds has been on Georgia Ave for 30 years.

Time Frame, I'm almost afraid to say being well versed in how these things unfold. We are optimistic of a September time frame.
Sounds good to me. The owner has been involved with some other places in the city as well. They also have a Facebook page, Youtube channel, website, and Twitter.

The video below shows just how big the back area is:

Tegeste Ethiopian restaurant: nice people, good food

A friend and I checked out Tegeste Ethiopian restaurant on 14th between Parkwood and Perry the other day, and it didn't disappoint. It's a small spot, maybe 8 tables, and the ambience isn't amazing but the server was quite friendly and the food was good. Tegeste, the chef herself, even came out after the meal to thank us. According to Yelp that's pretty common, which is pretty cool.

We got the vegetarian combo and lamb tibs, which was more than enough food for the two of us. The veggies were good and  nicely seasoned (I especially liked the beets) the tibs was (were?) good as well. They have 5 Ethiopian beers for $5 each, and other beers for about the same or less. The prices for the food are reasonable too, the veggie combo was $12 and the tibs was about $8. They also have tej (honey wine) lots of coffee drinks and more.

I'm no expert on Ethiopian cuisine, but Tegeste seemed comparable to the places on U Street. I'll definitely be back.

Hilarious cat found sign on Hobart Place

Anyone out there missing a pet?

Spotted this on Flickr, taken by Pixilista. Pretty hilarious. (Although it may not be original, it's still funny.)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Yard Sale Roundup: Lots this weekened

Lots of yard sale this weekend, check them out:
  • Saturday, 1319 Irving Street NW, 10:30 AM - 3 PM: Lots of odds and ends, including clothes (women's size 4-8), accessories, furniture, home decor, etc.
  • Saturday, 1847 Ontario Place NW, 10am-1pm. (Rain date: Sunday, 10am-1pm): floor lamps, two-drawer steel filing cabinet, exercise ball, bicycle rack, kitchen cart, cut glass, and miscellaneous kitchen items, vases, flower pots, jewelry, and electronic components. Link
  • Saturday, 1801 Calvert St. NW, 10:30-4:00: Contemporary Design Sale from New Leaf Works: New "All the wares by this Washington-based independent designer are handmade and created with the highest quality materials." Link
  • Saturday, 9am-12pm,1631 Harvard Street, NW: Mutli-family sale with furniture, men's and women's clothing, jewelery, games, DVDs, housewares, baby items. Link
  • Sunday, in front of 1250 Columbia Rd NW from 11am-2pm: Tons of books, "really great stuff," antique lamp, snorkeling equipment with fins in two sizes, tennis rackets, towels, linens, and who knows what else. Link 

Petwork Community Market opens today

The Petworth Community Market begins their second season today at the intersection of 9th/Georgia/Upshur, from 4-8 pm. Here's more:
PETWORTH, WASHINGTON, DC: The Petworth Community Market opens today! Join us from 4 PM to 8 PM every Friday starting today, May 20, through September 30 for this popular neighborhood gathering. Pick up fresh fruits and vegetables, egss, locally roasted coffee beans, pastries, aromatic teas, grass-fed meats, artisanal breads; linger to hear the weekly music.

The Petworth Community Market runs Fridays, 4 PM to 8 PM, through September 30, along Ninth Street at the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Upshur Street, NW. Special events will occur throughout the summer, including chef demonstrations, artist appearances and local musicians. On the last Friday of each month, the market will feature live music from a variety of local bands.

Fresh off last week’s successful fundraiser at Domku Bar & Café, this year’s market builds on the successes of our inaugural year by welcoming SNAP benefits recipients with an EBT Machine and an “Extra Cash” program, accepting credit card transactions, hiring a new market manager, and ensuring more convenient hours for our customers. The 2011 market season is sponsored by ANC 4C, 3 Tree Flats and Donatelli Development.

Confirmed vendors include:

C& T Produce
Fresh Off The Roast
G Flores Produce
Great Harvest Bread Company
J & L Green Farm
Kuhn Orchards
Momme Meals
Paisley Fig
Pearl Fine Teas
William Maedel III

PCM is still recruiting farm vendors, artists and crafters for the weekly market. For additional details or to download a vendor application, visit www.petworthmarket.org.

About the Petworth Community Market

The Petworth Community Market (PCM), a pending nonprofit, operates a weekly farmers market along Ninth Street, NW, at the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Upshur Street, NW. The market runs Fridays, 4 PM to 8 PM, May 20 through September 30. Special events will occur throughout the summer, including chef demonstrations, artist appearances and local musicians. The market features live music from local bands on the last Friday of each month.

Situated near the newly renovated Petworth Library and amidst new development, PCM focuses on creating a marketplace where local farmers, producers, artisans and entrepreneurs can sell and trade their goods and services. Managed by a group of neighborhood volunteers, PCM strives to build community, encourage a vibrant streetscape, and create a sense of place within the Petworth neighborhood. To learn more, visit www.petworthmarket.org. Follow us @PetworthMarket or on Facebook.

More on Uncapped Live, the new popup art venue on 14th

Yesterday you read about the Wale show at Vitaminwater Uncapped Live, the pop-up art and performance venue at 14th and W: now here's more about it. The venue, organized by Brightest Young Things, will be open until June 17th, and tonight is the official opening featuring the Fatback DJs and more.

Tomorrow there's an end of the world party starting at 9 pm, and Sunday is Post-Apocalyptic Sunday School, whatever that is. More, from their site:
  • Art Whino's 2011 edition of their awesome G40 exhibit: a 30 day installation of over 2000 works by 500 artists exploring the genres which are on the forefront of creative transitions and are consistently growing in large scale with hundreds of thousands of fans throughout the world. Some of these genres include customized collectibles, skateboard art, stencil, wheat paste and 3D interventions.
  • Musical and event programming by us that will go on 6 days a week (Tuesday through Sunday) and include numerous fashion, comedy, film , photography and community related events plus the likes of The Knocks, Painted Face, Fatback, Chris Burns, Rival Skies [ed: a band in the neighborhood] and many other both established and up and coming local and national touring acts.
  • An open daytime lounge for you to basically move into- with free wi-fi, hydration and amazing art everywhere.
Sounds pretty cool. Here's a timelapse of them setting it up:

Introducing Uncapped Live from Jeff Martin on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

DC rapper Wale, others perform tonight at temporary space on 14th

Some hip hop is coming to the neighborhood: The BYT blog and The Fader magazine set up a pop-up music venue, Vitaminwater Uncapped Live, located at 2213-2217 14th Street NW just north of W Street. There's a show tonight, featuring Wale and some other artists.

Wale, who is from DC, has been in the neighborhood a few times in the past few years. The show is from 8-11 pm tonight and you can RSVP by clicking above. Here's more on the artists from The Fader.

Below is Google Streetview of the location. My mistake, this is actually on the east side of the street.

Composting in the neighborhood?

Question from a reader:
In NYC many of the farmer's markets also have an area in which locals can come and dump compost materials into these large bins that the farmers then use on their farms.  Do you know of any local places to drop off composting materials?  We live in a tiny apartment that would not handle the amount of compost-able waste we create (vegetarians).
Anyone? Leave your ideas in the comments. 

Inaccurate mention of Columbia Heights on Bones

We're famous! Sort of. A reader sent this in, it's form the TV show Bones:
FYI:  On Thursday's episode, lead FBI agent Booth says, "A white man in Columbia Heights? He’d stand out like an onion in a bean field!"  The characters then review CH ATM footage and zero in on the five white males.
What?????!!!!   So silly that the writers of a show supposedly set in DC have never set foot in DC.
True that, as anybody who has ever walked around here will tell you. Or just look at the Census data, where the white population has grown by up to 300% since 2000 in some parts of the neighborhood.

Of course, this isn't the first time the neighborhood has been mentioned inaccurately on TV: on the Fox show Lie to Me, a character said she lived at "105 Addison" in Columbia Heights.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Big fight outside the Columbia Heights Metro last night

PoP has the story of a big fight outside the Columbia Heights Metro at about 5 pm yesterday. Apparently a big group of teens were fighting in the alley behind the Victory Heights senior home on the NE corner of 14th and Irving, and then moved over. Police showed up and at least somebody was arrested. DCist had this photo of some hair weaves that apparently got pulled out during the fight, taken by Joseph Leonardo.

I haven't seen more details anywhere, did anyone see this? Crazy.

UPDATE: Joseph says via Twitter: "All high school girls, some w/ kids." Geez.

Bands in the Neighborhood: Gringo

This latest installment of Bands in the Neighborhood is on Gringo, a Latin-inspired band in the neighborhood. 

The band plays next on Saturday, May 21 at the Velvet Lounge (915 U Street NW).

Q: How did you all choose the band name?
A: The band’s name originates in part from 2 lo-fi Spaghetti Westerns - Requiem para el Gringo (1968) & Adios, Gringo (1965).  The first features what is probably the only showdown at high noon involving a solar eclipse.  Oh, and, we are gringos playing Latin-inspired music.  

Q: How did the band form?
A: James (guitar & vox) and Mitch (guitars) first started playing together while living down in North Carolina, then resumed as a duo after both ending up in DC.   The trio formed by adding Michael (percussion) whom we met after playing a show at a farm (see below).  

Q: How many members live in Columbia Heights  - whereabouts?
A: One; the percussionist lives in Realtor-defined  “Columbia Heights” (actually Park View) on Park Place.  Mitch is currently seeking to buy a homestead in Columbia Heights.

Q: Do you practice in CH? How many gigs in the neighborhood?
A: We primarily practice in Adams Morgan.   The first time we played live as a trio, we had the honor to play at BloomBars (October 2010) -  an inviting venue for both artists and residents.

Q: What are your band’s influences?
Spaghetti Westerns; tumbleweed; Ennio Morricone; Clint Eastwood; Paco de Lucia; Buddy Holly; Calexico; dust; Latin Playboys; Big Country; Johnny Cash; John Wayne; cacti; Blind Willie McTell; Pixies; David Bowie; Los Lobos; Pink Floyd; Leonard Cohen; Neil Young; The Evens; Julia’s Empanadas.

Q: Do you have any records out? What’s your next show?
A: Released an EP “Seven Shooter” in 2010. (http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/gringopop)
More tunes can be heard at http://www.myspace.com/gringosongs.  
Upcoming show:
Friday, May 20 at Axum Level X Lounge (1934 9th Street, NW). Saturday, May 21 at the Velvet Lounge (915 U Street NW).

Q: Gone on any tours? (any crazy and terrible tour stories)
A: The more memorable gig was a benefit concert at Stoney Lonesome Farm (Gainesville, VA)  where all attendees - mostly CSA members of the farm - wore secondary footwear so as not to dirty up the farmhouse. We remembered to bring all our music equipment, but had to borrow footwear.  It was our first show wearing slippers!  We’re really looking forward to our upcoming gigs in DC, especially since they are all within walking/biking distance.  

Q: What’s your take on the local music scene in Columbia Heights and DC?
A: The local music scene seems to be as diverse as its venues - BloomBars, Wonderland, Soul Vegetarian (on Georgia Ave).  DC’s music scene will be forever in the grateful shadow of Fugazi, and more recently, Title Tracks and Imperial China have been making some positive noise.

Q: If you had to rename your band for something in Columbia Heights, what would it be?
A: “Wardman” - after Harry Wardman,  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Wardman) or maybe “Burrito Breath” - due to all-hours popularity of Chipotle.

City Paper: How to pour a beer at Meridian Pint

One of the cooler things about Meridian Pint is the table tap: the tables that have their own beer taps so you can pour your own beer. However, that often means that people pour beers with mostly foam (see right). The City Paper has an article on the phenomenon. I was lucky in that the first time I went there, my buddy who works at bars taught me how to pour. Here's what he taught me:
  1. Quickly open the tap all the way, not partially. That will reduce bubbles
  2. Let the first few seconds of beer go down the drain. It's painful to watch but it really helps
  3. Then move your glass in, tilted so the beer goes down the side. Just like at a kegger back in the day (or now?)
  4. Gradually move it down and close the tap when you're almost full
  5. Less foamy beer success.
Any other suggestions for a good pour at Meridian Pint?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Help out a new resident: parking if you aren't registered in DC?

Got this question from a reader: any ideas?
I'm moving into the area this week and just realized that parking is going to be a hassle.
I drove around and saw that the each street is only 2 hours between 7am - 830pm, I haven't registered my car to DC which means I do no have a resident parking permit.  I noticed the DCUSA parking garage, but haven't been able to find information on it online.
Do you have any suggestions on what can make my out of state car parking issue easier until I get a parking permit?  And would you know if street parking is always difficult around the area (I'm actually moving into Mt. Pleasant, two and a half blocks away from Columbia Heights).
It looks like you can sign up for monthly parking at DCUSA here, but maybe there are better options?

International children's festival this weekend, involving embassies!

This sounds really cool if you have kids -- the Meridian International Center is hosting their International Children's Festival this Saturday, which includes participation from a number of embassies. It's just across the street from Meridian Hill Park. Here's the details:
The Festival is organized and designed specifically for children and families to ‘travel around the world,’ in the confines of Meridian’s historic grounds. Embassy partners create and run educational booths that encourage cultural learning about their countries and the world at large. They showcase artifacts, crafts and activities designed to engage people of all ages. Embassy representatives from each country are present to answer questions and interact with attendees.

Date:                                                      Saturday, May 21, 2011

Time:                                                     10:00am – 3:00pm

Location:                                               Meridian International Center
                                                                White-Meyer House and Meridian House

Participating Embassies:Australia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Brazil, Brunei, Chile, China, Egypt, El Salvador, Fiji, The Gambia, Ghana, Guatemala, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Nepal, Norway, Poland, Saudi Arabia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Turkey.

Admission: $10 per person
Free for Children 12 and under
(One adult required per every four children 12 and under. No strollers allowed       in the exhibit area.)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Domino's coming to 14th and Fairmont in June

Looks like the rumors were true: the sign went up this weekend for a Domino's in the Columbia Uptown apartment building at 14th and Fairmont. If you're keeping track, this is the space farthest north in the building. The one next to it is a dry cleaners and the farthest south one is still empty.

I'm not a big Domino's fan, but today on TV I saw an ad for $5.99 carryout pizzas, which is a pretty good deal. What do you think? Good news or meh?

Musical history in the neighborhood: the Wilson Center and hardcore

You may be familiar with DC's place in popular music, at least how the metro area was a major focus for punk, especially hardcore music and the straight edge philosophy in the 1980s and 1990s. However, Columbia Heights was an important part of that scene, as well as the Latin music scene.

The City Paper has an interesting article about the Wilson Center, today the Capital City Public Charter School at 15th and Irving, which was a DIY space that hosted a ton of hardcore concerts, many of which are on YouTube. It's an interesting story even if you aren't a fan of the music. Some of the videos filmed at the center are below.

But aside from just hardcore, the building, which also housed part of the Latin American Youth Center, was also important in Latin American music, hosting a ton of shows by Latin American artists and being a part of the "New Song" or "Nueva Cancion" movement.

Pretty cool that our neighborhood was a hotbed for a couple musical genres and it's still being remembered today. Of course, Columbia Heights still hosts a bunch of bands, some of which are in the Bands in the Neighborhood series.

Here's two videos filmed at the Wilson Center of the bands Fugazi in 1988 and Government Issue in 1982.

Empty lot at 14th and Florida: wouldn't it make a great beer garden?

I was walking by 14th and Florida and noticed the empty lot on the southeast corridor, which used to be a used car place. There's a building on the south side and a big open space facing Florida Avenue, which is planned to be a condo building with retail on the ground floor.

That said, wouldn't it make an awesome place for a beer garden? You could keep the small building as the kitchen and maybe a bar, like Standard down at 14th and S, and make the rest outdoor tables and umbrellas.

But unfortunately, it looks like that isn't going to happen. It's currently owned by local developer Douglas Jemal (oddly, the LLC he set up for it is called Jemal's Hookers LLC) and they're looking for retail tenants already.

Here's the Google Street View look. Without the cars there's quite a bit of room. Fun to imagine, at least.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Review of Paila Chilean Grill on Park Road: it's good. Go there.

Do you like delicious sandwiches? A commenter on yesterday's post about breakfast in the neighborhood mentioned Paila Grill on Park Road as a good spot. I hadn't been before so a buddy and I went last night. The verdict: tasty stuff. I want to go back soon and try more.

It's a small spot with a few tables, and the owner, a friendly Chilean guy, recommended we eat in rather than get it to go so it doesn't get cold. The place specializes in churrasco (steak) sandwiches, plus hot dogs with lots of toppings. I tried the chemilico (below), which is steak and fried egg, and my buddy got the chacarero (above), steak, avocado, jalapenos, green beans, lettuce, tomatoes and mayo. Both were served with a small side of chips and pico de gallo, and both were pretty delicious. I demolished mine. The chemilico worked well as dinner and would be equally as good for breakfast or lunch. I could have gone for some kind of side dish, but the sandwich was quite good.

The steak is tender, cut into pieces and nicely seasoned. On the chacarero, the green beans sound strange but work well, they're tender and good. The toasted buns were pretty good too. The owner said everything is fresh, nothing frozen. Plus it's inexpensive: the sandwiches were $7 each.

The owner also recommended the viensa completo, an all-beef hot dog with avocado, tomato, mayo and sauerkraut. I'll have to try it next time. They also have fish tacos which Yelpers recommend and breakfast, from sandwiches to burritos.

For dessert I tried to get the brazo de reina, a traditional Chilean pastry with dulce de leche, but it was sold out. The owner (who while we were there spoke Spanish, English and French to different customers) said his wife makes it and was very convincing about how delicious it was. Next time.

The place doesn't have alcohol and is a little lacking on ambiance, but if you like good, fresh food, this is the spot.

They're open until 9 pm, 10 pm on Friday and Saturday, and open at 8 am.

Yelp likes it too and they're also on Facebook.

Paila Chilean Grill is at 1424 Park Rd NW.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Where to get weekday breakfast in the neighborhood?

A reader posed this question via Twitter: where's a good place to get breakfast in the area during the week, not including IHOP?

I suggested Florida Avenue Grill at Florida and 11th, but do you have any recommendations?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Columbia Heights fountain on the front page of today's Post

Thanks guys! Click it for a bigger version, or go here. No article, but hey, it's a nice photo. Always funny to see kids running in the water.

Interview with Philecia Harris of Coffy Cafe, new crepe place coming to 14th and Park

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Coffy Cafe, a new crepes and coffee shop coming to the Samuel Kelsey building on 14th just north of Park (across from the Tivoli.) Recently I spoke with the owner, Philecia Harris, about herself and her plans.

Sounds neat. Also interesting to see her experiences as a small business: she writes that the only space she could afford in DCUSA, even with the set-aside, was under the escalator.

How did you get the idea for the shop?

Hmmm, where do I begin: not just an idea...a journey.  I grew-up around family businesses, my grandfather's fish 'n chip shop, aunt's beauty shop, Mom's fashion and word-processing businesses, Dad's Amway.  I always thought it would be nice to have my own neighborhood place some day.  In '99 a friend asked me to open a creperie with her, it wasn't the right time for me but since then I've had crepes on the brain.   I'm always on the lookout for homey cafes, where people chat instead of work on computers.  As teaching got more hard-core and political, I decided it would be a good time to make the jump. Originally, I thought I'd work at a cafe but in the end, decided to "rub my pennies together" and try to create a place of my own.

Can you tell us a little more about what it will be like inside?
Back in the 90's I visited a little cafe in Montreal that had a fire place and funky winged-back chairs.  I thought, if I ever open a cafe, this is what it will be like: my living room.  The Coffy concept comes from my living rooms and kitchens.  I've always had a love of kitchens with 1940-65 appliances and furniture and that grew into a taste for 1960's touches throughout my home.  Coffy will have the 1960's/70's white tulip tables, some white Mod chairs and touches of Lucite, near the front .  Towards the back there will be more mood lighting with floor lamps, arm chairs, couches (just found a tufted white vinyl couch from the 50's).  I'll add my own white with powder blue vinyl kitchen set somewhere in the middle.  The walls with have the 60's/70's movie posters: Barbarella, Mod Squad, Avengers and of course the Pam Grier icons, Cleopatra Jones and Coffy, who inspired the name.  The space is 1500 sq/ft with 15ft ceilings and I love the big windows.

Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
I'm currently a DC educator in SE.  I've worked in a Boston Charter School, the DC public schools, neighborhood public libraries and with various community organizations throughout the years.  I'm from New England but also have roots in DC.  The cafe will be my second business, my first was custom printing and hand painting t-shirts for craft stores and festivals.  I grew up in close knit military communities with layovers and visits to "grandma's house" in DC and New England, with their corner stores, ethnic bakeries, deli's, barbershops, community centers etc.  It is my hope that I can create a space that will add to the sense of neighborhood and community even in the Tivoli center which is starting to feel a bit overbuilt for the neighborhood feel.

Did you look anywhere else for a location? Was it difficult to find one? Yeah, it's pretty rough out there, it's been a couple of years of searching and waiting.  Residential realtors work quickly but commercial realtors can take months to respond to an offer.  From the beginning  I was priced out of H St., 14th and U, got no response from a number of locales while other places wanted a cafe but weren't quite right for me.  I bid on a spot near Eastern Market but they chose another business, started negotiations with Allegro Apts just up 14th--first convo they seemed exited but one day they just stopped responding.  I was told I had "my ducks in a row" and a solid business plan.  There are some small business set-asides in the big CH mall (DCUSA) but the spaces I could afford were under the escalator which worried me.  Then one day I saw the sign in the window at Kelsey apartments, they accepted a number of small business applications and after a great deal of vetting they chose me :-).

Are you going to make the items in the store or are they from somewhere else?
The crepes will be made upon request using large round crepe flats and people will watch their crepes being made from behind a plexiglass sneeze guard.   While I may be looking for a baker to provide some specialties,but in-house I will re-create some family recipes for a few select cup-cakes, cookies, pound cake and my own red velvet cake.

When do you hope to open?
Hope is the operative word.  Maybe this summer.  I'm waiting for mechanical drawings to be finished.  Will be taking all the plans downtown to the DRA hopefully this month.  I'll have to go through the process of pre-inspection and permits(May/June), light construction(June/July/?Aug), then final zoning and inspections (?Aug).  Cross your fingers!

Tell us about the name.

I was looking for good name for a 60's spot.  I thought of Pixels with a 60's TV in the logo, Chat Noir (black cat in french) for crepes with a cat woman in the logo.  Then one day just hit me over the head.  Who could resist the double entendre of coffee and Coffy, which coincidentally represented a Mod, B-movie heroine.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Petworth Farmer's Market (open on Fridays starting May 20) confirms vendors, hosts fundraisers

The Petworth Farmer's Market, which opens on Friday, May 20 at Georgia & Upshur, has announced their vendor line-up. The market is unusual in that it runs on Fridays from 4-8pm. They're also holding a fundraiser at Domku on Wednesday. Here's the full press release:
Confirmed vendors include:
C & T Produce
Fresh Off the Roast
G Flores Produce
Great Harvest Bread Company
 J & L Green Farms
Kuhn Orchards
Momme Meals
Paisley Fig
Pearl Fine Teas
The Tender Rib

The market runs Fridays, 4 PM to 8 PM, May 20 through September 30, along Ninth Street at the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Upshur Street, NW. Special events will occur throughout the summer, including chef demonstrations, artist appearances and local musicians. On the last Friday of each month, the market will feature live music from a variety of local bands.

Join the market board and supporters at a fundraiser May 11, 2011, from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM at Domku Bar & Café, 821 Upshur Street, NW. The organization seeks to raise enough funds to purchase an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) machine in order to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (formerly Food Stamps). The fundraiser will feature a silent auction, raffle, drink specials, photo portrait booth, and DJ. Suggested entry donation is $10. To purchase tickets or to make a general donation to the cause, please visit: http://petworthmarketfundraiser.eventbrite.com/

The 2011 market season is sponsored by ANC 4C, 3 Tree Flats and Donatelli Development.

PCM is still recruiting farm vendors, artists and crafters for the weekly markets.  For additional details or to download a vendor application, visit www.petworthmarket.org.

About the Petworth Community Market
The Petworth Community Market (PCM), a pending nonprofit, operates a weekly farmers market along Ninth Street, NW, at the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Upshur Street, NW.  Situated near the newly renovated Petworth Library and amidst new development, PCM focuses on creating a marketplace where local farmers, producers, artisans and entrepreneurs can sell and trade their goods and services. Managed by a group of neighborhood volunteers, PCM strives to build community, encourage a vibrant streetscape, and create a sense of place within the Petworth neighborhood. To learn more, visit www.petworthmarket.org. Follow us @PetworthMarket or on Facebook.

New bar coming a few doors down from Looking Glass

Looks like a new bar, DC Reynolds Bar, is coming to Georgia Avenue. Their Twitter is new and says they just applied for a liquor license. From their Twitter, via the Park View Newsletter:
The old Huron Pharmacy property at 3628 Georgia Avenue is in the early planning stages to become a restaurant. While few details are known at this time, the general concept is expected to be similar to the old Temperance Hall. An informal presentation to the community is tentatively scheduled for the ANC 1A May 2011 meeting.
I've got some questions out asking more and will update when I hear. Here's the location, the one with the purple awning:

View Larger Map

They also have some Youtube videos, including a pretty funny one of a little kid helping to clear out the building. The other videos show a big backyard area, which I hope they'll utilize.

Outdoor movies coming in June

The folks from Columbia Heights Day have organized another outdoor movie series, starting June 8 with National Lampoon's Vacation. A classic. Check it out!

Monday, May 9, 2011

White House Community Forum in the neighborhood on Wednesday - ask White House staff!

Got anything you'd like to ask the White House? All Souls Church is hosting Michael Blake, White House Director of African American & Minority Business Outreach in the Office of Public Engagement to answer your questions. Sounds awesome. Here's the press release
This Wednesday, May 11 at 6:30 p.m., please join members of the DC community for a conversation with Michael Blake, White House Director of African American  & Minority Business Outreach in the Office of Public Engagement, who will discuss the Obama Administration's accomplishments and challenges, and take questions from the audience.

We invite you to sign up  for the event, where you may also submit questions in advance.  This is your chance to have your questions answered by the White House directly.  The purpose of this event is to make your voice heard, and we encourage you to attend with plans to join the conversation.

Do you want to know how the Obama Administration plans to protect DC Home Rule? Will the White House bargain with marriage equality and HIV-prevention programs in DC?  What has the White House actually accomplished?  This honest, open conversation with Mr. Blake will be driven by your questions and concerns.

The event will be held at All Souls Church  in Columbia Heights, at 2835 16th Street NW.  Please RSVP  and arrive early to guarantee a good seat (doors open at 6).  Following the conversation with Mr. Blake, participants are invited to take part in break-out sessions with other attendees to discuss concerns they have in common, which will then be forwarded to Mr. Blake's office for a response.


What: White House Community Forum with Michael Blake
When: Wednesday, May 11, 2011, 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. (doors open at 6)
Where: All Souls Church, 2835 16th Street NW (on the corner of 16th and Harvard)
Why: To voice your concerns to the White House directly and have your questions answered
Agenda: Available on the event registration page

Work underway at some of the abandoned "Greening Initiative" houses

In the past few weeks I've noticed some work going on in the abandoned buildings designated as part of the city's Housing Authority's Greening Initiative. Some of the buildings are getting fixed up and turned into scattered-site public housing. I've seen work on houses on the 1300 block of Irving, 1300 block on Girard, 2700 block of 13th and another (I forget the location.)

Nice to see these places getting some residents. There's a total of 26 properties in the program, some already occupied and some empty.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Bands in the Neighborhood: Rival Skies

This latest installment of Bands in the Neighborhood is on Rival Skies, an five-member indie/post-rock band with not one but two members in the neighborhood.

Their next show is this Saturday the 7th opening for Les Savy Fav at the Black Cat. Les Savy Fav put on an awesome show, it should be a lot of fun.

I spoke with guitarist Matt Holland, here's what he had to say:

The band is pretty new, correct? Can you tell me about how it formed and who's in it?
The band itself is pretty new with Libby Dorot [vocals, synth], Hays Holladay [bass], Matt Holland [guitar], Alfonso Bravo [baritone guitar] and Sam Raymond [drums]. Sam and I have been playing in bands for a number of years. Our previous band kinda went on a little hiatus and we ended up writing some really great things with Alfonso. Eventually what we were working on became the primary focus for us, so we searched around for additional members. We found Libby through Craigslist and Hays Holladay is a mutual friend that also happens to be a very very average musician.

What are you going for as a band?
I think we’re just trying to write interesting music while helping to cultivate the DC music scene. There’s a definite resurgence in DC music and we're excited to make our own original contribution. It’s going to be a fun summer. Oh, and money, ca$h, hoe$.

What are your band's influences?
We all listen to a wide range of music. But I think the music itself has been influenced mostly by Portishead, Deerhunter, The Knife and the theme to 28 Days Later. My specific style has been heavily influenced by electronic music - Kiln, Boards of Canada - and Steven Drozd from the Flaming Lips.

How many members live in Columbia Heights? Whereabouts?
Two of us live in Columbia Heights…I live at 13th and Irving & Sam lives at 14th and Otis.

Do you practice in Columbia Heights? Play any gigs in the neighborhood?
We started off practicing in Sam’s basement on Spring Road last June. In January we started sharing a space with U.S. Royalty at Gold Leaf Studios in Chinatown - it’s been one of the best things to happen to us. It’s not just a practice space, but rather an amazing melting pot of musicians and artists. There are some really, really exceptional people there. We have played some house shows in the area (like Fort Awesome - which ruled) - but we should probably take advantage of Bloom Bar.

Working on any records?
We have been writing as much as possible, trying to really hone our sound. An album is definitely in the works but these things just take time and patience. Currently, there are two tracks available for free download on rivalskies.com.

Any crazy or terrible tour stories?
None come to mind with RS. Sam had his drums peed on after a show in Richmond, Virginia, with our previous band. I never told him this, but it was me.

What’s your take on the music scene in Columbia Heights and in DC?
In the past, DC has been an important music town, but that has gone away in recent years. It’s is becoming a lot younger, more "hip", so I think everyone is reaaaally fiending for a scene that’s worthwhile. If local artists can foster a strong community of people who really care about the quality of the music, this city can return to its former prominence.

And if you had to rename your band for something Columbia Heights-related, what would it be?
Distrito and The Federales.

Neighborhood cleanup this Saturday, plus a brunch after

If you like helping the neighborhood and eating brunch with a discount, Saturday is your day. The folks at the North Columbia Heights Civic Association are holding their monthly neighborhood cleanup this Saturday starting at 9:30 am at Columbia Heights Coffee (11th north of Park).

At 10:30 am they'll be meeting at Meridian Pint, which will have discounts for cleaner-uppers.

Sounds like a good event!

Domino's coming to 14th and Fairmont?

You may recall a few months ago that there was a rumor an empty space in the Columbia Uptown  at 14th and Fairmont was going to be a Pizza Hut. Nothing happened with that, but now we have a bit more solid report that it may be a Domino's. From a reader:
Just passed by the row of mostly empty storefronts next to Amsterdam Cleaners, across from Dunkin Donuts and saw that there is a buildout going on. Its in the far left spot (behind the bus stop). Asked one of the construction workers what was going in and they said "a Domino's." Not the best food, but glad to see SOMETHING going in that building.
My sentiments exactly. Your thoughts?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Fired Chipotle workers marching tonight

Remember a few weeks ago, when about 40 workers at the Chipotle on 14th Street were fired for not being legally allowed to work in the US?

They're still active, and at 5:30 pm tonight they'll be marching from Sacred Heart Church at 16th and Irving to the Chipotle. They're demanding an apology, claiming they were intimidated and were fired and quickly replaced during a break, and are also asking for the money they claim they would have received if they had time to correct their immigration documents. We'll see if they get any of their demands.

Additionally, some people have complained that the new employees of this and other area Chipotles aren't as good as the fired workers. Has anyone noticed a difference? And what do you think of the march?

More on the Mexican place coming to 11th and Lamont by owner of Quarry House: sounds awesome

Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, yesterday I attended the North Columbia Heights Civic Association meeting at Bloombars, which featured a presentation from Jackie Greenbaum, who will be opening an as-yet-unnamed Mexican restaurant on 11th north of Lamont (next to Mr. Larry's Pet Supply Store.) Greenbaum said she's looking to begin construction in a few weeks and hopes to open in July or August. They already have a liquor license (more on that below.)

Greenbaum also owns Jackie's Restaurant, the Quarry House, and Sidebar, popular places in Silver Spring that I've heard a lot of good things about (here's their Yelp pages.) I was impressed by her presentation and really looking forward to the place. It's small, though I missed the part where she mentioned number of seats, with about 36 seats inside (12 at the bar) and 30 on the roofdeck. They already have their liquor license and have their opening hours set per a ruling of the alcohol board: some neighbors protested it and the board ruled that the outside will be closed at 11 pm on weekdays and midnight on Friday and Saturday night.

As for the place, Greenbaum said it will be unpretentious and neighborhoody with good deals -- there will be a $5 homemade margarita all the time, and ideally you'll be able to eat and have two drinks for $20 a person and will have either entrees with prices topping out at the low teens or small snack food, or maybe both, including a heavy vegetarian component. They're going to make their own sodas, horchata, and such and plan to have a nice, distinctive variety of food and drinks. She said she expects the roof deck to shine, and they'll replace the garage door with either accordion glass doors or maybe just big windows.

Decor-wise, they're going for fun and kitschy Mexican-style, and they don't have a name for it yet.

Greenbaum also seemed really interested in helping out in the neighborhood, she said she was born in DC and has lived in the area her whole life and really likes the neighborhood. She talked about the importance of making sure the outside is clean and trash-free, and when the meeting moved on to discussion of the dog park at 11th and Lamont, Greenbaum offered to help pay for gravel or other improvements, as she has big dogs and appreciates dog parks. She was also interested in neighborhood cleanups. Sounds like a good neighbor to have.

She also mentioned she was interested in maybe starting a used furniture store. That could be a cool addition to the neighborhood too.