Wednesday, August 31, 2011

1300 block of Girard: the crappiest block in the neighborhood?

The other day I was walking along Girard, and noticed that the northern side of the 1300 block is really in bad shape: out of 7 buildings, 1 is abandoned and being renovated (slowly), another is empty and being renovated, two are in pretty bad shape, and 1 is a massive renovation on an apartment building, so it's all screwed up too. It's the worst side of a block in the neighborhood.

Going from east to west, there's the Easter Seals child care, which is in ok shape. Then there's the detached house that used to be Asian American LEAD, which provides mentoring for Asian students and is now downtown. The place is a wreck -- see it at right. It looked like it had been empty for some time, and there's a massive hole in the front and all kinds of debris in the yard. It had a big porch before that looked like it could have been nice, had it been fixed up. I'm not sure if it's being renovated or torn down, and I'm not sure which I would prefer considering the way it looks now.

Next to that is what I call the Haunted Mansion, a big mansion owned by Dorothy Brizill and Gary Imhoff, two local political activists. It's been fixed up a bit, but for awhile there there were broken and missing windows, messed up columns, debris in the yard and other problems with the house -- it was actually condemned in 2008. The house was the inspiration for this blog's Abandoned House Watch series, if that tells you anything.

Then next to that is 1337 Girard, which is another representative in the Abandoned House Watch series, which I think used to house squatters. It's slowly getting fixed up as I see workers there all the time, and until yesterday there was a massive hole in the facade of the house on the second floor. Today that hole is repaired with a door, which is odd since it's on the second floor. We'll see what happens there, maybe making it multiple units, a walkup or something?

Continuing on and you see 1339 Girard, with the honor of being the nicest house on the block. That's not saying much, as this place has seen better days too. The box spring in the yard is gone though, which is good.

Next to that is an overgrown lot -- or I thought it was a lot until I looked at the city's property map on DC Atlas. It's actually an alley. Not sure how an alley got fenced off and filled with plants and some garbage.

Then as you continue the trip west, you come to a section of missing sidewalk. It's been like that so long that people have worn a path in the grass going around it. And yesterday there was a full trash can tipped over there. Nice.

And finally, you come to the NCBA Estates retirement home building, which was kind of grim looking. It's getting renovated with a nicer facade and balconies, but it's currently covered in scaffolding and there's construction stuff all over.

The north side of this block is rough sight, giving parts of Detroit and St. Louis a run for their money. And even stranger, the southern side of the block is perfectly nice looking with well kept up row houses. It's hands down the worst-looking stretch of road around.

Let's hope this stuff gets fixed, and soon.

UPDATE: A reader passed along the below photo of the back of Dorothy Brizill's house (the Haunted Mansion) which was hit by a tree during the hurricane. Crazy. It looks like only the facade is remaining. I wonder if it's just been the facade for awhile though, I'd be surprised that a tree could do this much damage.

Pho 14's expansion opens on Thursday!

It's pho time. A friend who ate there yesterday talked with staff, who confirmed that the expansion will be open on Thursday. Good news, as the place is tasty and often packed. Plus it's good to see a local business do well.

They'll be taking over the adjacent space, 1438 Park Rd NW. And apparently there isn't much progress on a liquor license.

Pho 14 expanding, Grand Re-Opening on or after September 1, still working on liquor license

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hurricane follow-up: any damage plus sandbags and tree debris

The hurricane passed us, and it didn't seem too bad. Anyone have any damage or lose power? I didn't see many trees down or hear of friends with flooded basements, which is good.

Also, if you got sandbags, make sure not to dump the sand into the storm drains -- DC Water, DCRA, and DPW recommend either keeping them for next time (Katia?) or mixing the sand with soil. The sand can damage water systems and can be harmful to ecosystems.

In addition, the city will be collecting tree debris. Here's more details on what to do.

Friday, August 26, 2011

More Hurricane Irene prep from DC Water

DC Water has some tips in advance of the hurricane:
August 26, 2011 – WASHINGTON, DC – In preparation for Hurricane Irene, the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water) is establishing plans and resources to maintain water and sewer services for District residents.

DC Water facilities are equipped to withstand weather-related events and water service interruptions are not anticipated during the hurricane. This includes during power outages. In an effort to minimize water damage, DC Water has checked and cleared storm drains in all areas at risk for flooding.

DC Water crews will be stationed throughout the District to monitor hurricane impacts and respond to emergencies. The 24-Hour Command Center will operate in a location with backup power and available for emergency response. The Washington Aqueduct, responsible for treating District drinking water, is working closely with DC Water to monitor water treatment plants and the distribution system.

 “DC Water will do its best to make sure the life-sustaining service we provide to our customers continues uninterrupted,” said DC Water General Manager George S. Hawkins.  “Dedicated crews, equipment, and communication systems are all at the ready.”

DC Water encourages residents to prepare for Hurricane Irene:
•       Collect cold tap water for storage – one gallon per person (or pet) per day. Store water in a cool environment. Bottled water is unnecessary and most stores are sold out after so many people paid more than a $1 per gallon. Turn on the tap – it’s a penny per gallon.
•       Consider freezing a few jugs, and place these in the fridge during a power outage to keep food cold.
•       Minimize flooding risks – clear gutters and downspouts.
•       Store unscented liquid household chlorine bleach to disinfect water if service is interrupted and for general cleaning and sanitizing.
•       Help DC Water after the storm - safely remove debris blocking storm drains or call 202- 612-3400 for major blockage.

Residents should report water emergencies and flooding to the 24-Hour Command Center at 202-612-3400.

For more information, visit or contact DC Water Customer Service at 202-354-3600 and the 24-Hour Command Center at 202-612-3400.

Related Links:
name: DC Water Emergencies Page

Hurricane Irene is upon us: get prepared

So, there's a hurricane coming. We just had an earthquake, if there's a plague of locusts next I am out of here

But apocalypse aside, the Red Cross has a hurricane prep website with lots of things you may need: flashlight, batteries, candles, non-perishable food, bottled water, medications, baby stuff, a charged cell phone and so on. I went to and there's only a crappy press release from the mayor. Not helpful.

Another tip is that you could also put bottled water in the freezer today, then they'll stay cold in the fridge, even if power is out. And not on the list but important: alcohol.

If you live in a basement, like me, you had better get ready to clear out the drains in front of doors frequently, and/or even get sandbags. The city is giving them out in two locations:


(Washington, DC) The DC Department of Public Works announced today that District residents, with DC identification, may pick up sandbags (up to five per household) at its New Jersey Avenue and K Street, SE site (entrance on New Jersey at I Street, SE). Distribution begins Friday, August 26, at noon and runs through midnight. Distribution resumes Saturday, August 27, at 8 am and continues through midnight. The sandbags weigh between 40 lbs. and 50 lbs. and residents will need to load them into their vehicles.

DPW will have employees and signage directing residents to the site entrance.
 I was in town when Hurricane Isabel hit in 2003, and it was actually kind of fun. Lots of rain but not much damage in my area, though Metro was closed so many hurricane parties were canceled. Let's hope there's no damage this time around.

Columbia Heights Day is canceled! Not rain or shine!

Despite the website saying it's on, I just saw a post on their Facebook page -- it's canceled! Here's a press release:
The Columbia Heights Day festival, planned for Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm, is now canceled.

Columbia Heights Day Initiative President Sergio Herrera offers the following statement:

"It saddens us to say, due to circumstances beyond our control, the 5th Annual Columbia Heights Day Festival is canceled. Many of the companies and services that we rely on to present the festival are unable to perform their contracted duties for us, due to the potential of extreme weather. We sincerely apologize for the last minute notification, but our decision to cancel the festival is based on information provided to us this morning.

“We are in the process of reaching out to all festival participants to make them aware of the event cancellation. Over the coming days, we will be answering specific questions from individual people and organizations regarding this situation. Until then, we thank you in advance for your patience as we sort through the logistics; please stayed tuned to our Facebook and Webpage for updates."
They told me via Twitter that there's no rain date at this time, they only had their permits for one day.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Columbia Heights Day is on rain or shine

UPDATE: It is canceled. See above.

Hurricane, shmuirricane. Here's a press release from the Columbia Heights Day folks:

Columbia Heights Day is happening on Saturday rain or shine. Should there be any schedule changes, we'll be posting them on our Facebook page ( on our Twitter feed ( and via our e-mail list (sign up at


Community celebration and street fair features live music and arts performances, DC State Fair, family activities, food trucks and more

WHAT: 5th Annual Columbia Heights Day
WHEN: Saturday, August 27
10:00 am to 6:00 pm
WHERE: Harriet Tubman Elementary Field and 11th Street NW

* main entrance on Kenyon St. NW between 11th and 13th streets
* 11th Street is car-free between Irving and Lamont streets
* Just 3 blocks from the Columbia Heights Metro (Green and Yellow lines)

FESTIVAL MAP: [Google Map]

WHO: Highlights include:

* Three stages of live music and dance performances
* Kids Zone, featuring a petting zoo, fun games and family entertainment
* The National Symphony Orchestra’s musical instrument petting zoo
* Performances all day at BloomBars
* Morning yoga workshop and Zumba class
* Neighborhood dog show
* King & Queen of Columbia Heights pageant
* Food truck row on Kenyon Street
* Cupcake eating contest
* 2nd Annual “DC State Fair”
* More than 70 local businesses and community groups
* After Hours Party post-festival at Lou's City Bar and Acre 121

Performances, classes and demonstrations:

10:00 am -- free yoga class with Quiet Mind Yoga (field)
11:00 am -- free Zumba class with Lola (main stage)
11:30 am -- dog show (main stage)
12:00 pm -- performance by the cast of Arena Stage’s Oklahoma (main stage)
12:15 pm -- King & Queen of Columbia Heights (main stage)
12:45 pm -- Challa (Kids Zone)
1:00 pm -- In Da Streets (Kids Zone)
1:15 pm -- BloomBars Presents: Christylez Bacon & Washington Sound Museum (main stage)
1:45 pm -- BloomBars Presents: Ella (Kids Zone)
2:00 pm -- Sweetbread Jim's (acoustic stage)
2:00 pm -- Belladonna's Bohemian Belly Dance (field)
2:15 pm – Wytold (main stage)
2:30 pm -- Young Women's Drumming Empowerment (Kids Zone)
3:00 pm -- National Symphony Orchestra announcement (main stage)
3:00 pm -- Potomac Bombs (field)
3:15 pm -- Luck Dub (main stage)
4:00 pm -- Sticky Fingers' 4th Annual Cupcake Eating Contest (main stage)
4:00 pm -- Rene Moffatt (acoustic stage)
4:15 pm -- Flex Matthews (main stage)
5:00 pm -- BloomBars Presents: Zezeh Zax (field)
5:00 pm -- OTasty
5:15 pm -- The Chariots (main stage)

Columbia Heights Day is presented by the Columbia Heights Day Initiative, a local, independent, grassroots 501(c)(3) organization. Columbia Heights Day is dedicated to celebrating community, diversity and service. For more information, visit

Combatting "dock-blocking" in Capital Bikeshare: Reverse rider rewards

 If you're a Capital Bikeshare member, the bike sharing service all over the city, you're probably familiar with "dock-blocking," where either the bike dock is empty when you need a bike or it's full when you need to return it.

It's very annoying, sometimes requiring multiple stops, and frequently happens during morning rush hour -- many docks in our area are empty while all the ones downtown are full, and vice versa in the evening.

They're trying to combat the problem, however, with something they're calling Reverse Rider Rewards -- the idea is that if you ride the opposite direction of the usual travel in the morning, you can qualify to get a free membership or other prizes. Not a bad idea. Here's the map of the eligible stations. If you take a bike from a black station (frequently full ones) to a yellow one (frequently empty) between 8 and 10 am, you're in the running. The folks with the most points get prizes, and there are also random drawings.

View Reverse Rider Rewards in a larger map

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tasti D-Lite "frozen dessert" shop opening in DCUSA

The cornily-named New York frozen dessert chain Tasti D-Lite is opening in DCUSA in November, according to DCist. Their website says "Tasti D-Lite is a dairy-based soft serve frozen dessert. Not frozen yogurt, because it doesn’t contain fermented yogurt cultures. Not ice cream, because it contains less than 10% butter fat." Ok. They'll have about 100 flavors, which is crazy.

It's unclear where exactly Tasti D-Lite will be in DCUSA, but I'm guessing it will be one of the small spots under the stairs (where the shopping carts are now) or upstairs near Best Buy -- the old space plan below shows the locations, listed as Maggie Moo's and Quizno's. This was the original plan for tenants before the place was built, which is why there are differences.

Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is that Fro-Zen-Yo is across the street. I guess we can support both? I predict a rise in containers of frozen stuff in the trash cans around DCUSA and the Civic Plaza.

Earthquake! Spot any damage in the neighborhood?

So yeah, that happened. Did anybody spot any damage in the neighborhood? Twitter user @CitizenCassidy posted this picture of the Mt. Rona Baptist Church at 13th and Monroe, looks like some bricks fell off. I also noticed a few cracks in the plaster or paint at my place.

There were also untrue reports of looting and even that the roof fell in at Target, but those were obviously by people with nothing better to do.

Interesting times we live in.

UPDATE: Apparently there was roof damage at DCUSA, but the roof did not fall in. It's back open.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Don't forget, Columbia Heights Day & DC State Fair are this Saturday

It's almost party time. This Saturday the 27th, Columbia Heights Day descends on the Tubman School field at 11th and Kenyon. There's lots of events, booths, music, performances, and more.

For the second year in a row, the DC State Fair will be at the fest as well with produce judging, a photo contest, and other events.

Here's a quick schedule, with the full on their site and Facebook.

There's also lots of local bands, including past Bands in the Neighborhood like Sweetbread Jim's and Lucky Dub.

10:00 am  Morning Yoga
11:00 am  Zumba Class
11:30 am  Dog Show
12:15 pm  Pageant
1:15 pm    Live Music
2:00 pm    Live Music
3:00 pm    NSO Event
4:00 pm    Cupcake Eating
4:15 pm    Live Music
5:15 pm    Live Music

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bands in the Neighborhood: SweetBread Jim's

This latest installment of Bands in the Neighborhood is on SweetBread Jim's, who play Americana/indie rock and are owned by a mysterious benefactor. Or are they

They play next this Saturday at Columbia Heights Day at 2 pm.

And if you're a Band in the Neighborhood and would like to be part of this series, email me.

What's your musical background?
Linsay (Songwriter, Vocals, Guitar): The members of SweetBread Jim’s come from very diverse backgrounds. I have been singing since early childhood and have a background in choral music, musical theater, and classical singing. My songwriting influences span many genres. The songs I write definitely tend to be melodically driven and put a strong focus on the vocals.  Lanou and Lewis are the ones who really make us rock!

Jon Lewis (Drums): I obtained my musical inspiration from my father, vocalist and music educator, Gregory Lewis. My musical background started in church in the 6th grade, playing gospel at my home church, Lincoln Park United Methodist Church.  I was brought up under the wing of Calvin Jones Jr. and other great musicians.  I started embracing music more in junior high where I studied under Richard Gill and then moved on to study with a great percussion teacher and mentor, Kenneth Dickerson, at Wilson High School. Currently, I am obtaining my music education degree at UDC and plan to be a music educator and working musician the rest of my life.

John Lanou (Bass):  I studied classical music criticism in college (not performance -- I have little training) as well as African rhythm.  As a result i think i focus on classical harmonies but add a bunch of syncopation.  Most of my prior projects have been instrumental and post-rock.

How did you come up with the band name?

Linsay: Well, the owner of the band, SweetBread Jim, decided to name the band after himself. SweetBread Jim is from Wheaton, MD. He had always wanted to break into the booking business because he was getting sick of working at his dad’s used car lot scraping the old car prices off windshields and writing on the new prices.  He found us on Craigslist and purchased the band for $20; he has been trying to get us gigs ever since. He still works at the used car lot, though. So, SweetBread Jim’s is actually short for SweetBread Jim’s Band.

How many members live in Columbia Heights? Whereabouts?
Linsay: Two of us, Lanou and I, live in Columbia Heights. Actually, I lived in the apartment below his group house a few years ago and that is how we met. When I went to view the apartment for the first time, he was having band practice with another band upstairs;it was loud and rockin’. I knew I had to live in that apartment after hearing them. Now I live on Sherman Ave NW. And although Lewis doesn’t live in Columbia Heights, he is a DC native which is pretty awesome.

Lanou: I live next to Bloombars, the new epicenter of local home-grown music.

Working on any records?
Linsay: We’re taking it slow since we’ve only been together since October 2010. We are working on our DEMO CD!!! right now. It will feature 3-4 songs.

Lanou: If SweetBread Jim says "make a record," we make a record.

Lewis: I feel good about the recent demo recording session. I’m ready to get back in there and get started on our first album.

Any crazy or terrible tour stories?
Linsay: I wish! We haven’t gone on tour yet. But we do have some crazy stories...

Lanou: Playing local gigs has been quite sufficient for the collection of ridiculous anecdotes.  To protect the identities involved, we will not name names until we're rich and famous and have a PR team from L.A.

Lewis: Lanou, that doesn’t mean I won’t name names. Frits ok, but Ed is a

What’s your take on the music scene in Columbia Heights and in DC?
Linsay: I’m still trying to get a grasp on the music scene in the neighborhood and in DC. This city is so diverse in its population and that is reflected in the music scene. I know that the scene I am involved in is pretty cool. Musicians here are very friendly and always trying to help each other out. At the Wonderland on Sunday nights, Ian Walters hosts a weekly unplugged show that always features local and regional artists. That is the best spot in the ‘hood to catch some good music. We play there from time to time.

Lewis: Don’t get me started on musician's compensation in DC.I feel as though musicians are not appreciated enough on DC’s music scene. The appreciation for the music culture in the DC area has depleted and has forced musicians to do gigs for low wages.  I look at this as a blatant form of disrespect. That’s why I’m with SweetBread Jim’s...Jim pays. lol

And if you had to rename your band for something Columbia Heights-related, what would it be?
Linsay: “The Columbia Heights’ Awesome Band”?
Lanou: "SweetBread Jim is Buying Your Neighborhood"
Lewis: “The Shnermsters”.lol

You can find them online at
and can follow us @

More explosions in the neighborhood? This time at 2 am Sunday

I got another email from a reader about an explosion, this time about 2:20 am on Sunday. If you recall, there was a similar one on Wednesday, also with a loud explosion and the smell of gunpowder.

Maybe they're left over 4th of July fireworks? I don't think guns actually make a lot of smoke or smell like gunpowder anymore, do they? Plus gunshots are more like a pop than a boom, in my (limited) experience.

Anybody else notice this?
We were in a cab coming home around 2:20am on Sunday morning and were stopped at a light at about 14th and Girard when there there was an extremely loud explosion or gunfire about two car lengths behind us. We crouched down in our cab and looked around and there appeared to be gunsmoke immediately there, we told the cab driver to floor it and all of the cars around us started speeding up.  I haven't seen anything on the blogs or news about it, do you have any idea what happened?  Our neighbor was walking home about 2 blocks north at the time and he said it sounded like a cannon.  The smoke was right in the center of the street so if someone was shooting I would think they would have had to been standing almost in the middle of the street for it to happen.

Friday, August 19, 2011

D'Vines now selling draft beer in growlers, will grow to 20 lines!

Beer time. D'Vines at 3103 14th Street NW is now selling what they're calling fresh beer to go (FBTG) meaning you bring your own container, like a growler (pictured), and they'll fill it. Right now they have 2 beers, and they plan to expand to 20 (!) different beers. 

What's the difference between beer in a growler and beer in a six pack? It's just like keg beer, so generally fresher -- plus it's pretty fun too. And for those folks who don't have their own, D'Vines will be selling growlers and containers.

Here's more from a recent email:
We have begun our "Fresh Beer To Go" (aka FBTG) journey with a single line. Tomorrow we will introduce a second line.  We will grow to about 20 lines, That's right!, that is 20 beers on draft that you may buy to go and enjoy in the comfort of your own home. 
What will make d'vines special is as always THE OPTIONS, that is in beer brands, styles and most important Packaging, 16oz, 33oz, 64oz: Keep in mind that you may bring your Growler and we will re fill it for you, with the law mandating that they must be SEALED with Heat Shrink Seal, all we ask is a little patience...
Sounds good to me. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Explosion last night around 11 pm?

I've heard a few questions and reports about this, anyone know anything? Maybe it was a car fire?
Does anyone know what the hell this explosion was in Park View / Columbia Heights late last night close to 11:00pm?

I was on the 2nd floor of my house on Kenyon St [Kenyon and Georgia Ave] and it sounded/felt like something blew up in the alley or within a block or 2 radius.

All my neighbors came out wondering what was going on.

Never heard any sirens, saw a police car or two, but they were just driving by.

It was like nothing had happened.


Pho 14 expanding, Grand Re-Opening on or after September 1, still working on liquor license

Time for more pho! A friend was at Pho 14 today, the popular local pho joint at 1436 Park Road NW, and the person behind the bar told him they're expanding, with a re-opening celebration on or about September 1. This is good news, as the place is tasty and often quite crowded with long waits. It looks like the space will roughly double.

The staffer also said they're still working on their liquor license, which would be great. I could go for a 33 beer with my pho. It's been awhile though since they've been working on it, at least 2009.

The expansion will be next door, as there was some construction there, and they've mentioned that before.

Let's hope it all goes according to plan!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The DC Stereotype Map: is Columbia Heights "bikes, beer and burglaries"?

Social Studies DC, the new blog from the Living Social folks, has a map they call the DC Stereotype Map (above, click it for a bigger version). Some of it is pretty funny. They call our general area "Bikes, beer and burglaries," which is next to "Jumbo Slice" (i.e. Adams Morgan), "Marching Bands" for Howard, and "Commie Dog Walkers" for Petworth (though technically they are anarchist dog walkers.)

So is it accurate? The neighborhood certainly has a fair amount of bikes, beer and burglaries, but so do other hoods, and we have lots of other stuff. Maybe "bikes, beer, Target"? "Group houses, older residents, bars?" I dunno. What are your ideas for our stereotype?

Locals working on fixing the busted up Columbia Heights/Park View/Pleasant Plains sign

You may have seen the sign at Georgia and Irving that says "Columbia Heights" and in smaller letters, "Park View" and "Pleasant Plains." It's pretty worse for the wear (see right), but some local residents are aiming to fix it and had a meeting a couple weeks ago. I haven't heard much lately but I am reaching out.
Dear Irving Street Residents,

We will be holding a public meeting on Monday, August 1, at 8 pm in front of the sign at the corner of Georgia and Irving to vote on language for a new neighborhood sign.  We are asking all of you to come out to show your support for changing the sign and to provide your input on which names should be on the sign.  Please come out to show the Advisory Neighborhood Council (ANC) and our Commissioners that we want a new sign!! 

As you may remember, we initially proposed with language consistent with the current sign -- Park View, Columbia Heights, and Pleasant Planes. Unfortunately, our Commissioner chose not to endorse that proposal, preventing the ANC from supporting our application for a public space permit.  Given our ANC Commissioner's opposition, many of our neighbors have worked with other ANC Commissioners to determine what language will be acceptable for the sign. A historical report about the corner of Georgia and Irivng (attached) was written by ANC Commissioner Kent Boese and was accepted by the ANC at its July meeting.  The report contained the following recommendations for the sign's language:

1) "Entering Park View, Leaving Pleasant Plains"
2) "Park View"
3) language welcoming passers by to their street

The meeting will focus on these three language proposals.  While other ideas will certainly be considered, adopting one of the above has the greatest likelihood of gaining ANC support.  

We plan to invite all ANC Commissioners to the meeting, so please come and spread the word to your neighbors, as the more people who attend, the greater weight the ANC will give to our proposal. 

If too many people gather, we will head across the street to Bruce Monroe where there is more space.

Thank you!

The Park View Beautification Crew

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Columbia Heights Day is August 27th: fundraisers, shirts, King & Queen contestants needed

Columbia Heights Day is upon us! The 5th anniversary of the fun neighborhood festival takes place at the Tubman School field at 11th and Kenyon (across from Wonderland.)

They're hosting a pre-festival party and volunteer event on the 25th and Wonderland and they're also looking for contestants for the annual King and Queen of Columbia Heights -- email to enter, and you must be a CH resident.

They'll have DC flag t-shirts in red, green and blue for sale at the Community Marketplace on this Saturday, and festival t-shirts with the official logo will be available next week. The red one gets me comments whenever I wear it around, it's pretty cool.

The event is getting bigger too, with three performance stages with lots of bands and other shows. 11th Street from Lamont to Irving will be blocked off and Kenyon will be filled with food trucks and food carts. Confirmed food trucks are BBQ Bus, DC Slices, Eat Wonky, El Floridano, Pleasant Pops, AZN Eats.

Sounds pretty great. The only minor quibble I have is that the font on their logo is cheesy. But in any case, I'm looking forward to it!

Snoozing Metro managers at Columbia Heights, elsewhere

Uh oh. The folks at Unsuck DC Metro caught a few Metro station managers asleep on the job, including at the Columbia Heights and Ballston Metros. The photo above is at Columbia Heights and was shot by Collin K. at 12:15 on Saturday.

The Post reports that Metro is investigating.

Anybody else ever notice this?

A new record? 84 posts on sidewalk bikes on the CH Yahoo group

Woo! We did it! Or something. The Columbia Heights Yahoo Group conversation about bicycling on the sidewalk expanded to getting doored (when a bicyclist runs into an open car door, often when the driver doesn't look and opens it), transportation infrastructure, and more. It's a whopping 80+ posts, and I'm not sure what we learned, other than bikes cause strong opinions.

One thing I was wondering though -- right now it's legal to bike on the sidewalk outside downtown -- what if they expanded that to congested areas, like around DCUSA, Adams Morgan, and so on. Might be a good solution. Otherwise there's only giving people nasty looks or having cops ticket people, but it's legal, so...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Restaurant Week is underway: Acre 121, Eatonville, The Heights participating

If you like discounted grub, get to Acre 121, Eatonville or the Heights this week, they're the local spots participating in DC Restaurant Week.

If you're unfamiliar, Restaurant Week basically lets you get lunch at nice places for $20.11, or dinner for $35.11, generally with multiple courses included, though alcohol is extra. It's a pretty cool way to check out some new spots.

Awesome sounding performance tonight at BloomBars: Ella, a 12-year old multi-instrumentalist

BloomBars, the local art space at 3222 11th Street NW, has a neat event tonight featuring Ella, a 12-year old musician and singer who is part of the DC Youth Orchestra and Girls Rock DC. She plays guitar, bass, drums, xylophone and sings. Not your average 12-year old. Here's their press release about it:
My name is Ella. I'm 12 years-old and excited to be entering the 7th grade. I have a passion for exploring and playing music. I play several instruments including the guitar, bass, drums, xylophone, and most recently, I discovered my voice.
In April this year, I performed at “The Garden” open mic at BloomBars. It was my first performance in front of an audience that wasn’t comprised of my classmates. It was a pretty big deal for me. Especially since I’ve always fancied myself as a behind-the-scenes artist, writing and producing music. In fact, my real goal is to score music some day. Nothing ruins a movie more than a bad score if you ask me.
So you can imagine my surprise and excitement when Jonathan and Gowri, hosts of “The Garden,” invited me to be the featured artist this coming Monday, August 15th.
My set will include covers by Hall and Oates "Adult Education,” Zero 7, "Somersault,” and an untitled song by yours truly. As you might guess, I’m inspired by all genres of music from classical to Hip Hop to alternative rock. I count Hans Zimmer, Kanye West and Joan Jett among my heroes. My grandfather, bass player Elbert L. “Pops” Stewart Jr., is known for backing blues legends in Houston. I'm trying to learn some blues riffs now to impress him.
I was born in New York City, but I recently came to Washington, D.C., where I’ve been honing my skills with the DC Youth Orchestra Program and Girls Rock! DC.
If you want a sneak peak, here’s a clip of me playing for Kevin Sandbloom, who I had a chance to meet yesterday. I was blown away by his laid back style and deep speaking voice, which he controls beautifully when he sings. I can’t wait to see him perform tonight at his CD release concert at BloomBars!
See you soon,

Panera signs now up in DCUSA, still opening in October

A few readers have noticed that there are signs up in the DCUSA space next to Panda Express that say Panera is coming soon. We heard in February that it was confirmed they were coming, and the target date is still October.

Any Panera fans out there? I like Potbelly better, but we shall see.

At first I was a bit worried about Panera coming, as I thought there were too many chains in DCUSA, but then I realized that's basically going to happen no matter what. As long as they are useful, as in they generate foot traffic and aren't dead spaces like a bank or something, and as long as the interesting local, independent spots keep coming to the rest of the neighborhood, I'm happy.

Along those lines I made a map of local and national businesses in the area, and it doesn't look too bad. Red are national chains, blue are local, independent places, and green is local chains (i.e. Z-Burger). Those with dots are food, those without aren't.

UPDATE: Per a question, this map is only things that have arrived recently or are arriving soon.

View Columbia Heights New Businesses in a larger map

Friday, August 12, 2011

Attempted mugging by taser at 15th and Columbia

Just got this email from a reader. Scary stuff.
A friend and I were walking to the Columbia Heights Metro Saturday a little after midnight, when we were attacked by two guys, who both had tasers.  We had just crossed 15th on Columbia Rd when they tasered us from out of nowhere. I hit the ground pretty hard but am okay and my friend, who didn't get the full force of the taser, is fine. The good news is that we fought them off and the punks didn't get anything of any value from us.  My attacker tore off my right trouser pocket but luckily my iphone was in the other pocket. My friend was able to ward off his attacker and hit him in the face. The bad news is that it all happened so fast that we couldn't give the police a very good description outside of the following – two black males approximately six feet tall, one a little younger, taller,  and skinnier wearing a  hooded sweatshirt, the second between 18 and 30 and stocky with a purple "Ravens-type" hat.
I used to live in the neighborhood and knew that block was always a little rough but have parked my car on that block many nights over the years with no issues. In retrospect, I should have been more aware and taken Irving at that time of night. I'm glad we fought them off but do not necessarily recommend that to others. I was on the ground and the guy kept coming at me to grab my phone or wallet and I kept kicking him in the knee whenever he got close. It was just instinct.  I also feel fortunate to have landed the way I did or I could have been seriously injured. Although there is no way to prepare for a random attack, I will be more vigilant and cautious walking around at night and hope that everyone will do the same.
That's crazy. I haven't heard of anything like this before. Let's hope the police are aware of this kind of attack. It's also a good reminder to be careful and don't make it obvious when you have valuables or electronics on you.

Sticky Fingers will save the US economy, says Canadian news

You probably didn't know that when you buy goodies at Sticky Fingers, you are saving the economy. The CBC, Canada's major broadcaster, has a video segment about the US economy featuring Sticky Fingers and owner Doron Petersan. The main point is that profitable businesses expanding will help the economy.

So, go buy lots of stuff there. And other local businesses! You are helping the US economy, and probably the world.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Live blogging the trial of a 2008 Columbia Heights murder

Just got a note from the blogger at the Felony Calendars, a blog that tracks local criminal trials. A trial just started today of the murder of Stanley Daniels, who was killed in 2008 near The House strip club on Georgia Avenue, a few blocks south of the Georgia Ave-Petworth Metro.

Here's more on Daniels from MPD's website and more about the case from the Felony Calendars. Supposedly he was killed in retaliation to a stabbing he committed earlier.

The blog is pretty interesting (if grim) both to follow the case and to see what else is going on.

Local lingo: going up and down Columbia Heights

Here's some linguistics for you. Something I've noticed on Twitter is that a lot of people say things like "up Columbia Heights" or "down Columbia Heights": as in, they're going up to or down to Columbia Heights. There's a couple examples above from the last few hours. Not sure when people should use up instead of down, maybe it means north or south?

In any case, kind of an interesting local way of saying it. I like it.

I looked around and saw similar constructions for other places in the metro area. Maybe it's part of the DC dialect. Wikipedia says there's something similar in Baltimorese -- "down the ocean" -- or, phonetically "downy ew-shun" meaning going to the ocean.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Room 11's second anniversary party today, Aug 10!

Room 11, the great neighborhood wine and cocktail spot at 11th and Lamont, is having their second anniversary party tonight. I love that place, sounds like a good time.
Please join us at Room 11 for our second anniversary celebration Wednesday, August 10! Free Jamaican Punch from 5 to 7 for all and a free glass with purchase after that while supplies last (we've got a lot). I'll be signing my book, the Punch Bowl, we'll have a limited supply of lovely Room 11 t-shirts by Nick for sale, and Chef Ben is planning some delicious food specials.

Thanks to all who helped make our second year great and thanks to the residents and business people of Columbia Heights for being such great neighbors.

Arrest made in anti-gay hate crime that police didn't take a report on

This is good news. The Blade reports that a 19-year old has been arrested and charged in the alleged hate crime where two men assaulted five lesbians outside the Columbia Heights Metro. The women say MPD officers refused to take a police report, laughed at them and told them to go home. Chief Cathy Lanier said there would be an investigation into the officers' actions.

Let's hope this kid goes to jail, and if other suspects are involved, they're caught too. Let's also hope that this leads to police paying more attention to hate crimes and assaults by teenagers in general. I feel like most of the crime in the neighborhood is done by younger kids. Maybe that's true everywhere, but it's worrisome.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tegeste Ethiopian Restaurant has closed -- something going on with the landlord?

The restaurant shortly after opening
This looks like bad news: PoP reports that Tegeste Ethiopian Restaurant at 3521 14th Street NW has abruptly closed. It appears to be an issue with rent, as the landlord taped a returned rent check on the window, the restaurant's sign has been removed, and there's a For Rent sign in the window.

Kind of a harsh way to show that somebody hasn't paid rent, but then again I wouldn't be happy if I were a landlord and that happened.

The owner is Gladys Nunez, who also seems to own RedRocks (at least somebody who lives at her same address owns it, according to the city's database.) In 2007, there was some kind of issue with Ms. Nunez at the location where Tegeste was located: a person who rented an upstairs space alleged she was a scammer. Not sure what came of that, I'm trying to find out more.

This is too bad, as I liked the place. The decor was so-so, but the food was good and inexpensive. I wonder if it was too inexpensive. "Mama" Tegeste was a very nice lady too, she came out to say hello to most people there. I hope she lands on her feet somewhere else.

Too many bikes on the sidewalks?

Recently on the Columbia Heights Yahoo group there's been a long discussion about bikes on the sidewalk: namely how they're bad. Pedestrians often have close calls or are even hit by bikers. Most people say they should be on the street or in bike lanes where present. It is actually legal to ride on the sidewalk outside downtown, contrary to what some people believe, but whether you should or not is another matter.

I must admit I've ridden on the sidewalk before, mainly because I didn't have much experience riding on the street. Since then, though I pretty much only ride on the street. You get used to it pretty quickly.

What do you think? Never on the sidewalk, or it's ok when it's not crowded? Or not at all?

Monday, August 8, 2011

MPD ignores alleged hate crime, Chief Lanier responds

This is not good. On the 30th at 3 am just outside the Columbia Heights Metro, a group of 5 women say they were assaulted by two men who used slurs about their sexual orientation. They were punched and had bruises on their faces and bodies. The police apprehended one of the suspects, but let him go and told the women to go home, not taking a police report. One woman said the officers laughed at them. Pretty messed up. WUSA and the Examiner have articles.

Chief Cathy Lanier, who met with gay and lesbian leaders about similar issues earlier in the month, said the incident is under investigation. Let's hope so.

Here's the report from WUSA:

Solar panel business moves to the neighborhood, hosts open house

Nice to see new businesses in the neighborhood -- including offices. SolarTown is a solar panel company that just moved to the neighborhood. Sort of fitting considering the solar lights at the Civic Plaza and around the neighborhood.

They're hosting an open house on the 10th from 5-7pm at their office, 3419 14th Street NW, between Newton and Meridian.

Always good to see more businesses in the area. More business = more foot traffic.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Z-Burger in the Tivoli opening "Summer 2011"

Just got a heads-up from a reader: the Z-Burger that's coming to the Tivoli building has a sign up that reads "opening Summer 2011." Considering summer is winding down and the last time I looked in it seemed pretty far along, I'm guessing we'll have some burgers pretty soon.

The last I heard was that the space, which used to be Nori and before that Mayorga, was getting split in two, with retail (i.e. restaurant) downstairs and offices upstairs. Probably a good thing, as it's kind of an awkward space. Let's hope Z-Burger lasts longer than the previous two tenants. Not sure what the other space is going to be, aside from office use.

Z-Burger is a local chain, and I've never been. Anybody like it? How is it compared to Five Guys?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Vintage store Hella Tuff closed!

Sad news for the vintage clothing fans. Hella Tuff, the store in a basement on Fairmont Street, has closed. Owner Jessica Louise Dye moved to Richmond, which means it's no more. It was a neat little with sort of an interesting idea, it was open on weekends and by appointment, and had a great selection for a small place. I bought a cool Alamo ringer t-shirt and a cowboy type shirt.

Hella Tuff was, I think, the first vintage store in the neighborhood, and was followed by Black Eyed Susie's and It's Vintage, Darling. Nice to see this new line of stores in the neighborhood. There's also Nana in Mt. Pleasant (which with Quarterlife DC happens to advertise here) and a couple others in our western neighbor.

Here's the post I did on Hella Tuff, and a Bands in the Neighborhood post about Lightfoot, Dye's band.

Columbia Heights Day is August 27! Spaces for vendors & groups available, volunteers needed

It's almost that time, when Columbia Heights Day, our neighborhood celebration, gets underway. See more below for info on how to volunteer or if you'd like a space for your group or business.
Hey Neighbors,

Columbia Heights Day is right around the corner on Saturday, August 27. But before we celebrate the fifth year (!) of what we like to think as one of the best community festivals in DC, we hope you can help us get ready for the big day. Last year more than 10,000 people stopped by the festival and 2011 will be better (and bigger) than before.

We still have a few spaces open for vendors (those who are a local business owner, part of a community group or an artist). If you’re interested in having space during the festival let us know at Check oursponsorship form (PDF) for more information or sign-up online on our website

We are also looking for more volunteers. Columbia Heights Day is an all-volunteer operation and we need a few dozen helping hands the day of the festival. Can you help us set-up, sell T-shirts or face paint in the Kids Zone? Contact Volunteer Coordinator Ania at to help out.

Finally, we also have a 5-for-5 campaign in honor of our fifth anniversary. We are encouraging folks to donate $5 online at or in-person at the Columbia Heights Community Marketplace on Saturday, August 6. 


~ Columbia Heights Day Initiative

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Argh. Posts to come

Sorry for the lack of posts, I blame Blogger. I had a few scheduled, but for some reason it sometimes saves them as drafts instead of scheduling them out. More to come!!!