Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Want some gum? Crazy gum wall on V Street


The other day I was down near the 9:30 Club and noticed the entry way of the building next door was covered in what looks like gum. Pretty weird.

The building is abandoned, it used to be Atlantic Plumbing, so I'm not really sure how the gum got there. 9:30 Club lines don't usually go that far, and the gum seems way too orderly placed to be just random. A quick Google search didn't turn up anything, although the gum wall does appear on Google Street View, so it's been there for a little while, at least.

Interesting, in any case. I guess if you're in the area and the flavor has gone out of your gum, stick it on there!

Event at the Howard Theatre celebrates pre-Prohibition black bartenders

This is awesome: as part of the celebration of World Cocktail Week (May 6-13) a group of mixologists and enthusiasts have organized an event to honor some folks you probably haven't heard much about: black bartenders from pre-Prohibition days.

The event, organized by some a group of writers, historians and local bartenders, talks about the contribution of those African American booze pioneers, including some who worked in DC. In fact, there was a club in DC at the time called the Black Mixology Club which was mentioned in the local press.

The event, called DC Toasts, features a concert by the Chuck Brown Band, plus more about the historical bartenders. The founders were on the Kojo Nnamdi Show a few days ago too, and you can listen on their site (it starts at about 21 minutes) or read a transcript here. The show is pretty interesting and actually goes into the history of bartenders in the US, who were well-respected folks before prohibition. There wasn't much info on black bartenders as the local newspapers didn't write about them very much, but the research uncovered some interesting things, like how drinks were served in coffee cups at Bohemian Caverns, presumably so if the place was raided it looked like you were drinking coffee or tea. The guests on the show also talked about contemporary bartending and how it's returning to that previous place, as more of a respected career rather than a job you do for awhile before doing something else.

You can learn more about the event in the Washingtonian, and get tickets and more info here. The event is Friday, May 10 at the Howard Theatre at 620 T Street NW.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Pete's Apizza offering $5 14" cheese pizza today only!

Whoops, almost missed this! Pete's Apizza, the delicious spot next to the Metro at 3100 14th Street NW, is holding a special in honor of their coming location. The first, of course, was ours! Take that, other hoods.

Here's the details:
Hey folks! 
As we prepare to open our fourth location in Silver Spring (exact date still TBD but it's coming up soon), we get to look back on five great years since we opened our first location in Columbia Heights. 
To celebrate, we're offering 14" cheese pies for just $5 at Columbia Heights all day on Monday, April 29th. You can add toppings for the regular price ($1.50 each). One birthday pie per person, and the birthday special can't be combined with any other special or offer. Offer is good for dine-in and to-go only (not applicable for delivery orders). Unlike regular monthly email specials, you do not have to present this email to the cashier - this one is for everyone, all day, only at Columbia Heights. 
Thanks to all of our customers, from day one through today, who have made this experience so great for us. 
Love,Tom, Kerri, Joel, Alicia & Tri (co-owners) and General Manager Nick, Assistant Managers Tra and Patrick, Chef Charlie, Sous Chef Mauricio, Pastry Chef Yvette, and the whole crew at Columbia Heights.

D'Vines now filling growlers: lots of different beers on tap

Beer lovers rejoice! D'Vines, the beer and wine store at 3103 14th Street NW, is now filling growlers, the big, refillable 64-ounce beer bottles. They're better for the environment since they're reusable, and they also mean you can get fresh beer whenever you want.

D'Vines is selling both 32- and 64-ounce growlers, which are 2 2/3 and 5/13 beers, respectively. They started off pouring from a selection of 17 different craft beers, some local (DC Brau, Dogfish Head) and some from farther afield (Sierra Nevada, Hofbrau and Bitburget hefeweizens.) I hear they'll have various numbers of beers available at different times, anywhere up to 30-something. Once they're filled they're sealed so you can't drink them immediately (or at least not until taking off the seal.)

If you recall, D'Vines tried to do this in 2011, but it turns out it was illegal. Since then, the city (smartly) changed the laws, and that means more beer fans can get more beer.

Nice to hear this, though maybe not if you're trying to fight your beer belly.

UPDATE: A commenter just left this note on the hours: "Heads up, you can only fill them from 5 to 8 pm on weekdays and all day on the weekends....for now at least. Couldn't get my day drinking on today :( "

Street Booze: Lime-a-Rita with a straw

Time for the latest in Street Booze, the occasional series on booze bottles I spot tossed around the neighborhood. This time around it's a can Lime-a-Rita with a straw.

You know, Spring is upon us, and sometimes you just want to drink something refreshing on the street. And sometimes maybe you're walking, or just not into drinking in a normal fashion, so you go for a straw.

So what's Lime-a-Rita? Bud makes it, and Paste says "It tastes like a margarita in the sense that Margarita Jelly Belly jelly beans taste like a margarita. Lime-flavored-Kool-Aid on the nose with a jolt of sweetly sour lime candy mixed up front and a hint of low-rent energy-drink flavor on the finish."

It's 8% alcohol, so pretty high for a can, though.

Curious about more Street Booze? Check out the archive.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Columbia Heights Day officially announced for Oct 5! Be a volunteer!

Big news! Columbia Heights Day, our annual fun neighborhood festival, has an official date: October 5, 2013. The organizers also need some volunteers, so you should help out! See below for more info.

It's official, the 7th Annual Columbia Heights Day Festival is scheduled for Saturday October 5, 2013.

As part of our efforts to improve and grow the festival, this year we are actively seeking community partners, organizers and festival planners. If you have a knack for organizing, scheduling artistic and musical talent, raising money, recruiting volunteers or just coming up with unique ideas, we need your help!

We are currently actively recruiting for the following volunteer positions:
Volunteering with the festival is a great way to make new friends/network, discover hidden talents, build your resume and be a part of something that you will be proud of for years. The best memories are the ones that you create.

Learn more about the Columbia Heights Day Festival at our first volunteer orientation on Thursday, May 16 at 7:00 pm at 1105 Kenyon St. NWRSVP on Facebook.

If you have any questions or would like to apply for one of the volunteer positions, please contact info@columbiaheightsday.org.

Tired of having a dirty block? Sign up to Adopt a Block!

Untitled If you're tired of all the trash, dog poop, food wrappers, drink bottles and cans, random clothes and everything else littering the streets and sidewalks in your area, here's a good solution to get involved and work with your neighbors and friends: Adopt a Block!

It would be a great option for you and your neighbors, company, church, sports team, or any other group you can think of. A local business would also be an awesome candidate to adopt the block where they are. Check it out!


I would like to extend the invitation to you to adopt some neighborhood blocks around your area.

Clean City's Adopt-A-Block Program helps beautify our neighborhoods and allows citizens like you to take an active role in cleaning and greening the District. As a part of the Clean City Initiative, Adopt-A-Blockoffers a hands-on project for people and organizations. The program allows participants to make a noticeable contribution to their communities.

To be a part of the clean&greenDC: Adopt-A-Block Program, a group:

•             Adopts a minimum of 2 square blocks of a residential or commercial area.
•             Agrees to conduct a quarterly, clean-up day and weekly litter pickup in the adopted area.
•             Maintains this agreement for 2 years.

Adopting a block in the District of Columbia has many benefits including:

1. Improved quality of life in your neighborhood. The appearance of our community contributes to the quality of life we all share.
2. Signs with your group's name letting people know you are committed to making a difference.
3. Pleasant reminders of the importance of litter control and prevention.
4. Litter-free, more attractive communities that help discourage unwanted and illegal activity.
5. An area watched and cared for by concerned citizens like you.

To sign up for the Adopt-A-Block Program, you can submit an online form here, http://occc.dc.gov/service/adopt-block

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Help Meridian Hill Park and GALA Theatre get historic preservation grant money!

Meridian Hill Park This is pretty neat: the National Trust for Historic Preservation is launching a contest called Partners in Preservation, where people can help their favorite historic sites get grant money to fund preservation activities. It's organized by American Express and the National Trust for Historic PreservationIn our neighborhood, the two candidates are Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park and the GALA Theatre building (that's the Tivoli.) You can see the full list here.

The campaign kicks off today, and I'll be writing blog posts about the sites in the next few weeks. In addition, you can get involved and help them win by accruing points! There are actually a ton of quick, fun and easy ways to do that, check it out. If you use Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, there's lots of points there!

Get Involved! Here’s how:
  • Learn more about the sites and vote online DAILY at partnersinpreservation.com
  • Check-In to the Sites on Foursquare, Post on Facebook, Tweet and Instagram using #PreserveDMV to earn more points
  • Come out to Farragut Square this Friday for Free Preservation Popsicles and to meet the sites
  • Visit the sites! Open House Weekend on May 4th and 5th will be a great time to really interact with some of the DC’s best historic gems
There's also some fun things you can get while helping out with the contest:
§  Reward Yourself: Partners in Preservation is giving away social rewards and vacation rewards for registered users who get involved: 
o   Social Badges: Connected users can earn up to eight (8) badges by taking different social actions,  including checking in on Foursquare, sharing stories and photos, and voting every day
o   Taking History on the Road, by Marriott: Marriott, official supporter of Partners in Preservation, is hosting a sweepstakes that will award ten (10) users with $2,000 gift cards towards hotel stays at any Marriott property around the world. 
§  Tell Your Story: Users can learn from each other why these historic places are so special, and submit stories of their own. Some stories may even make it onto the Partners in Preservation Facebook and Twitter pages 
§  Find Out More: Each of the participating historic places is part of the cultural landscape of Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Each needs funding for a special project that will restore, preserve or revitalize it for the future. Learn more, see photos and see where they stand among the competition.

Help Food & Friends by eating out tonight: Dining Out for Life

Food & Friends, the great local organization that helps people living with AIDS, cancer and other serious illnesses, has Dining Out for Life tonight, their big fundraiser, and you can help!

It's easy: go eat out at a participating restaurant. In our area, participating restaurants include Acre 121, Busboys & Poets, Eatonville, Marvin, The Heights, Radius, Red Rocks, Sala Thai, and Tonic. There's a lot more, so check out the full list.

And whether or not you go eat out tonight (and you should) you can also donate to the organization, which enters you in a sweepstakes for a $1,000 gift card, and also tweet about the effort. Here's more from them about the event. Go eat food!

Today, making a difference in the lives of thousands of your neighbors battling life-challenging illnesses couldn't be easier. Simply by DINING OUT, you will join thousands of diners across the country in sitting down to a meal that makes a difference. Here's how:
Find a Restaurant
Donate to Win
STEP 1: Pick a restaurant in DC, Maryland or Virginia.
STEP 2: DINE OUT for lunch and/or dinner and 25%-110% of your meal will be donated to provide daily, nutritious meals to our clients.
STEP 3: Enter our sweepstakes and make a donation. You could win a $1,000 US Airways gift card. Envelopes will be distributed in your restaurant or you can donate online at GIVEDOL.org.
STEP 4: Tweet Where You Eat. We want to hear from you and one lucky tweeter will win a $50 VISA gift card. Include #DOLDC to be eligible and remember to tag @foodandfriends.

Grab lunch or dinner to go from any DC Whole Foods Market location. 35% of purchases from the salad and hot bars will be donated to Food & Friends.
DONATE and you will be entered to win a $1,000 US Airways Gift Card!

Thank you again for partnering with Food & Friends. You are making a profound difference in the lives of our clients. Enjoy your meal!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

DC needs instant runoff voting.

So Anita Bonds won the at-large council election with a whopping 32% of the vote. To me, that's a problem: somebody wins an election with less than one third of the total votes cast -- or to put it another way, 68% of voters prefer her opponents.

DC should have instant runoff voting for elections like these.

What's that? Here's how Wikipedia describes it:
It is a form of preferential voting (or ranked choice voting) in which voters rank the candidates in order of preference rather than simply selecting a single candidate. 
Ballots are initially distributed based on each voter's first preference. If a candidate secures more than half of votes cast, that candidate wins. Otherwise, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. Ballots assigned to eliminated candidates are recounted and assigned to one of the remaining candidates based on the next preference on each ballot. This process continues until one candidate wins by obtaining more than half the votes.
So basically, more people will get a candidate they actually like. It also means you don't need to worry about "electability," which I heard a lot talking to people about this election -- people telling me they like Frumin or Zukerberg or Mara but don't think he can win, so they voted for Silverman or Mara so that Bonds wouldn't win. The Washington Post made the same argument last year during the at-large race, which had the same issue of multiple candidates. I would assume that if this system were in place for these last two elections, the results would have been very different.

The system might sound a little wacky, but it's done all over the world, including in Oakland, Portland, Maine, San Francisco, Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

I think it's time. Write your councilmembers about it! (And personally, I would have put Fred Rubble as my #1 preference.)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Go vote today! You can vote at any polling place, find the nearest one!

Today is the big day, the special election for at-large councilmember and also a referendum on DC's budget autonomy. And the important part is, you can vote at any of the polling places in the city, though you'll need a provisional ballot.

That means you can vote at work, school or any other convenient place, and you can find your polling place at the city's Board of Elections and Ethics site.

For the council, I suggest you vote for Patrick Mara to get a different voice out there. (And even if you don't support Mara, these Mara-memes are pretty funny.)

As for budget autonomy, I didn't write about that before because it's pretty obvious that yes, you should support DC's budget autonomy. The basic idea is that it will give DC more autonomy with its own budget -- right now Congress is able to approve or deny various parts of it. In the past, for example, Congress stopped DC's ability to implement a medical marijuana law that passed in 2002 and also cut funding for abortions.

But as for the referendum today, it's unclear what actually will happen, but to me it's a good start. Even if Congress tries to challenge it or somebody takes it to court, it might result in more visibility for our plight as a district without a vote in Congress and a voice in our own affairs. Maybe one of these days.

Noise from Soapy Joe's laundromat on Georgia Ave: do you notice it?

The other day I spotted this on the Columbia Heights Yahoo group: a person complaining about the Soapy Joe's dry cleaners on Georgia between Irving and Kenyon -- apparently they have some very loud machinery that starts very early in the morning and they are not at all responsive to complaints.

Have you noticed this noise? If so, call Jim Graham's office and DCRA at (202) 724-8181 and (202) 442-4400 respectively.
Hi all - I have for years been listening to, and being woken up by, a very loud noise coming from the Soapy Joes dry cleaners (over the 5 years I've lived here, it has operated under three different names) on Georgia Avenue between Irving and Kenyon Sts NW. It is, of course, worse in the spring because my windows are open. 
A year ago, with the help of Jim Graham's office, they built a structure around their outdoor machinery which took care of the loud compressor noise that persisted througout the day and they told me that they were going to repair the other machinery which makes a very loud noise that sounds like a loose fanbelt on a car. Often this noise wakes me up at around 5:45 in the morning, sometimes later. It usually runs for about 20 minutes to a half hour. They have apparently never repaired this machine because it is still making the noise and it regularly wakes me up. 
From my conversations with Soapy Joes, I am apparently the only person complaining about this noise, although I know at least one other neighbor who is also greatly annoyed by it. 
So I've become fed up with dealing with Soapy Joes directly because they are clearly uninterested in being a good neighbor (at one point they told me that if I didn't like noise, I shouldn't live in the city and compared their 30 hour of screeching to a passing police siren). They are well aware of the noise. So I'm now taking my complaints to a broader audience and directly to DCRA. 
If others of you are also frustrated by the noise coming from this dry cleaner, please call DCRA and Jim Graham's office to complain. Please also let me know directly so that possibly we can put some greater pressure on them to respect their residential neighbors.
UPDATE: Soapy Joe's owner Matt Sternberg commented on this blog post below, and also emailed me about the issue, which he says they're working on:
My name is Matt Sternberg and I am the owner of Soapy Joe's. Someone posted a blog about my company which I just responded to. They are having issues with the noise coming from the plant. We bought this plant about 5 years ago and did not know the issues it was causing. We have since built a wall and a cement structure which will hide the noise of our compresser and protect people against any type of danger. We have a fan belt that broke a few weeks ago and it has taken them a few weeks to order us a new one and replacde it but that is happening this week. I just saw this blog post, but always try to respond to people when they have a concern (see yelp.)
Nice to see this kind of response. I hope it gets fixed quickly.

Monday, April 22, 2013

At-large council election is tomorrow: vote for Patrick Mara

Patrick Mara The special election for at-large city council is tomorrow, so I hope you go vote. And I hope you vote for Patrick Mara.

I liked Elissa Silverman's message of a progressive person who's above politics -- until she tried to get fellow candidate Matthew Frumin to drop out with an offer to support him in a future run against Mary Cheh (which he said he's not interested in, anyway.) I wrote about that earlier today.

And something else I found out: earlier in the year, she also tried to get Paul Zukerberg thrown off the ballot by challenging his nominating signatures. Her protest was rejected.

This makes two different attempts to get candidates to drop out of the race -- the challenge to Zukerberg and then the an alleged quid pro quo for Frumin. Neither of these are progressive moves.

Maybe I'm naive, but I don't think sort of thing is right, especially if you're trying to be unlike other DC council candidates and above the usual scheming and shenanigans.

I've also liked Frumin, Zukerberg and Mara. However, I think Mara has the best chance of winning between them, and he also has something else which I think is a positive: he's a Republican.

But wait, why is that a good thing in liberal DC? I'm a liberal myself, but here's my argument: Right now, there are only Democrats on the city council, and look what that's gotten us: Kwame Brown's ridiculous request to get a fancy and expensive Lincoln Navigators paid for by taxpayers, and then turning that down and demanding (and receiving) an even fancier one leased by the city for $2,000 a month; Brown (again) going to getting convicted of bank fraud; Harry Thomas using money for his constituents to build a strip club and going to jail for it; Vince Gray or his associates (allegedly) funding a shadow campaign and a puppet candidate to attack Adrian Fenty; Jim Graham's alleged quid pro quo for a developer to drop out of a proposal and request to fund hold a fundraiser for his campaign, and on and on.

I think it's time for a different voice on the council, and that's why I support Patrick Mara. He's a fiscal conservative but moderate to liberal socially (he's pro-marriage equality), and also has been very active in Columbia Heights as a former part owner of Meridian Pint (he actually took place in the Columbia Heights Day cupcake eating contest a few years ago too,) and is a loud voice for making our schools better.

So why not incumbent Anita Bonds? I think Bonds is more of the same with DC Council politics -- she's been involved in local politics for a long time, serving as Marion Barry's deputy campaign manager a couple times and helping with his defense against drug charges. The Post says she's focused mainly on race as why she should be elected.

And something else I don't like is that she works for a construction company and has received by far the most contributions of any candidate from corporations, most of which are construction and development firms, and many of which are located outside DC. She also has the biggest percentage of donors from outside DC overall. I don't think that's a good thing -- is she going to side with these developers and outsiders against people in DC? You can see more about the donors at the Sunlight Foundation's great site on the issue. (See below, orange is corporate, yellow is personal.)

Of course, Patrick Mara isn't perfect -- he allegedly went to people who donated to his previous campaigns to fundraise for a think tank, which is illegal. Mara says that's not true, he went to friends and people he knew to fundraise for the group. The city is currently investigating. On the other hand, he has received the endorsements of the Washington Post, the Sierra Club, the Washington Blade, The Current newspapers, the Fraternal Order of Police, the DC Chamber of Commerce, and the Washington Examiner. In a recent article, the Post lauded his "appealing contrary view."

So I hope you vote for Mara tomorrow.

UPDATE: Jim Graham emailed me about the campaign fundraiser and a BID donation which were in this City Paper article, which I admit I forgot to link to. Here's his comment: "I asked for no such event from them. What they allege is that I requested funds for the U Street BID that I was working on. But that also is not true, since if they had proceeded, this building would have been located within the BID boundaries and this payment would have been required. You just can’t believe all of this."

At-large council candidate Silverman tries to get opponent to drop out with alleged quid pro quo

The race for at-large city council, which ends tomorrow, is getting interesting. In a move seemingly taken from student government, at-large council candidate Elissa Silverman met last week with opponent Matthew Frumin, asking him to drop out of the race so she has a better chance of beating incumbent Anita Bonds and Republican school board member Patrick Mara.

Both Silverman and Frumin verified the meeting took place, and Frumin said Silverman's campaign explicitly suggested that if he did drop out of the race, she'd do everything she could to help him run against Mary Cheh later this year in the general election. Silverman's side says there was no proposed quid pro quo. Frumin said he has no interest in running against Cheh.

If this is true, to me it really undermines Silverman's whole premise for her campaign, that she's a progressive who is beyond the usual shady council politics. This plan, however, is the definition of the usual shady council politics. (Well, almost, at least there wasn't any money changing hands.)

Silverman's progressive bona fides include being the former writer of the City Paper's Loose Lips column about local politics, and currently works for the DC Fiscal Policy Institute as a budget analyst.

I'm sure this kind of proposed deal happens a lot in DC, but that doesn't make it right, and offering such a deal while trying to say you're a different kind of politician is completely tone deaf and absurd to me. Why not just drive around in a black-on-black Lincoln Navigator while you're at it, Kwame Brown-style?

Silverman already rubbed me the wrong way earlier in the campaign when she attacked Patrick Mara for accepting a campaign donation from an anti-statehood PAC. Mara said he wasn't aware of the group's politics and had learned of it and returned the money even before Silverman complained. Meanwhile Silverman accepted a donation from Sinclair Skinner, who is best known as a guy who uses racial politics against his friends' opponents. He's been written about numerous times by the Post and City Paper and actually by Silverman herself..... Among some of his antics were a campaign against Jim Graham when Graham shut down a nightclub in the Reeves Center, a DC government building, after a man was killed in a stabbing there. Sinclair is alleged to have put up posters calling Graham "Graham-zilla the Black Business Killa," and also saying some homophobic stuff about him. Needless to say, I don't think he's somebody Silverman should be taking money from, especially not when she's criticizing other people's donors.

It's a bizarre and unfortunate turn from Silverman. Her website says "Her campaign is focused on integrity, accountability, and strategic investment in the District." If this is the kind of integrity she plans to use while in office, then no thanks.

The election is tomorrow! So make sure you vote!

UPDATE: Silverman released the emails she sent to Frumin, and Ken Archer, who works on her campaign, said it was more of a chat between friends with theoreticals. It still rubs me the wrong way, especially after she also tried to get Paul Zukerberg kicked off the ballot earlier.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Demolition underway at burned C&K Hotel -- to be residential building with retail

You may remember a few weeks ago when the vacant C&K Hotel at 14th and Quincy, formerly a transient hotel, brothel and drug den, caught fire. The fire thankfully didn't cause any major injuries or damage any surrounding properties, although two firefighters went to the hospital with smoke-related injuries.

The building is quickly being demolished and today a big hole, maybe a foundation or basement, is being dug on the site, which to me means there's progress going on what's going in there -- a 20-unit residential building with ground floor retail. That sounds good to me.

Below is the building, which was made up of adjoining rowhouses, after the fire.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Happy hour today at Chez Billy for Friends of the Soldiers Home

Chillin at the Old Soldiers' Home You may or may not know about the Old Soldiers Home -- officially the Armed Forces Retirement Home, it's located northeast of Park View and serves as a retirement home for veterans.

It's a National Historic Landmark and is really big and quite nice inside, lots of grass and rolling hills. The Friends of the Soldiers Home works to connect neighbors and Soldiers Home residents.

Here's a fun opportunity to help out their organization:

Happy Hour for a Cause
TOMORROW, Thursday, April 18, 6 PM - 9 PM
Chez Billy3815 Georgia Ave NW
Georgia Ave/Petworth Metro

Help Friends of the Soldiers Home raise funds to foster friendship between the community and the Armed Forces Retirement Home, and for the May 4 Spring Fling on campus
Minimum $10 per person suggested donation, cash or credit.
Donations also accepted at http://friendsofsoldiers.org/

Friends of the Soldiers Home is a non-profit organization serving to strengthen the bond between the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington and the surrounding community. Through service, education, and engagement, Friends of the Soldiers Home connects citizens and veterans in a relationship that recognizes the sacrifice of military service and enhances quality of life for veteran and citizen alike.

Le Caprice's breakfast sandwiches are delicious (and they have lunch ones too)


Le Caprice, the nice French bakery at 3460 14th Street NW, has a lot of good (and reasonably priced) baked goods. However, they also have delicious breakfast sandwiches. A lot recently I've been stopping by to get the breakfast combo, of which there are about 4 -- sandwich, coffee and a little cup of fruit for about $7. My favorite is the one with tasty roll -- it's egg, some kind of delicious cheese and a slice of tomato. Simple but good. You can add meat too, but it's not necessary, still delicious.

They've also got a bunch of premade lunch sandwiches on various kinds of bread (see below), which I haven't checked out yet, but based on the breakfast ones are probably pretty delicious.

And considering the nice weather lately (finally) it's a nice spot to get breakfast and sit on the patio.

Le Caprice sandwiches

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sherman Avenue streetscape project almost done, looking really nice!


The Sherman Avenue Streetscape Project, which is fixing up a dreary, ugly stretch of Sherman Avenue from about Barry Place (near Florida Ave) to Otis Place, is going really well. Finished up to Morton, it really looks nice -- like a planned boulevard that was just built in some new area of town. The sidewalks are nice and new and wider with little plant boxes, the gutters are fixed up, the pavement is new and not cracked all over the place, and the median strip has some tree seedlings and other plants. There are also new trash cans and some bike racks, wider lanes, and "sharrows" for biking (those are the arrows that make it more evident that bikes can share the road.)

It really makes the area look 100% better. The website for the plan is out of date (it says Oct. 2012 for a completion date) but it's almost done, with just about a block to go. Nice to see this, and I'd bet Sherman residents are happy with -- especially since all the dirt, noise and construction equipment are almost gone.

Do you live around Sherman? What do you think of it? 

Neighborhood cleanup this Saturday! Do something helpful!

Here's a great opportunity to do something nice in the neighborhood: the North Columbia Heights Civic Association is holding a neighborhood cleanup this Saturday. Meet up between 9:30 and 10:30am at the Trolley Turnaround Park at 11th and Monroe, they'll have bags and gloves for you.

And while cleaning up our neighborhood is reward enough, Meridian Pint is also offering discounted brunch for cleaner-uppers. Pretty cool. So check it out! Here's the flyer:

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

If you're angry or upset about Boston, do something good about it

If you're like me, you're upset, angry and sad about the senseless Boston attacks. Let's do something positive about it.

The first thing that comes to mind is a simple one -- be nice to people. It's something we often forget while running hurriedly around town, absorbed with our own business -- but it's important, especially when something happens that makes us think that we're all in this together. Little things can mean a lot.

Something else that's important in times like this: do what you normally do. The aim of any sort of terrorism is to make people change what they do and be afraid -- so let's not give whoever this was the satisfaction. Sure, there's more security in some places now, but we can still go about our lives like usual. Let's not be afraid. (The Post has more on this.)

And a big one: do something good for other people. Aside from just being nicer (and more aware of being nicer,) let's work to help others. The Red Cross is always a great organization, and the Boston and DC area chapter could surely use your help. There's a lot of great groups in Columbia Heights and around DC that help people and do good work too -- go check into them. Off the top of my head, there's the Latin American Youth Center, which works with local kids, 826DC, a tutoring group for kids and Words Beats and Life, which puts on art and music programs for youth. Lots of churches And there's many more groups I'm probably forgetting -- leave your favorite in the comments!

Around town, there's great groups like Food & Friends, which delivers meals to people with AIDS, cancer and other illnesses, Bread for the City, which helps low income families, Higher Achievement, which works with middle school kids, and many, many more.

It doesn't even have to be organized. Help out a neighbor. Organize a neighborhood cookout.

Times like this make me think how important life is -- our family, friends, loved ones and community. Let's do something, be good to each other, and make things better. Let's not let terror beat us.

Blue Banana sports bar is now closed, to reopen as something else

The great Park View DC reports some unfortunate news: Blue Banana, the sports bar at 3632 Georgia Avenue NW, closed as on April 10. The plan is that they'll reopen at some point with a new management team and a new concept.

I always liked the place, it was a no-frills sports bar, which is nice to have. I watched a few football and NCAA tournament games there, though the crowd was never very big. They had bands and DJs on weekends too, but I never went to those.

Food wise, they only had snacks like chicken wings, tots and cheese sticks, so that was probably part of the reason they've closed -- food makes money.

Let's hope something cool comes to the spot, and I hope the owners didn't lose money on the spot.

Have you been there? What did you think?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Moving soon? NCH readers can save $50 on Unpakt, a new price comparison site for moving companies

This is pretty neat: we just got a deal for readers on Unpakt.com, a new company that lets you compare reviews and prices for moving companies, then book online. It's sort of like Expedia or Kayak but for moving.

The deal is that exclusively for New Columbia Heights readers, you can get a $50 instate rebate if you book by 6/30/13 and enter "NCH50" as your promo code. Pretty nice of them to set that up for our readers.

The site is available in DC and around the country, and it's been written about in the New York Times, Forbes, Tech Crunch and elsewhere. Here's a bit more from them on how the site works plus some moving tips.

How Unpakt works:
  1. Plan: Enter your move basics: when/where you're moving, if you have stairs, what you're moving, whether you want professional packing, etc.

  2. Compare: See exact prices from reputable DC moving companies based on your move basics. Compare movers side-by-side with prices, customer reviews, services and more. 

  3. Book: Lock in your guaranteed price and relax! The only way your price will change is if you change your inventory or conditions.

Money-Saving Tips for Moving:

- Spring is a great time to move! Summer is the busy season, so if you're planning a move in the upcoming months, be sure to plan ahead. Last minute planning may leave you without a mover or squeeze you into a tight schedule.

- Avoid the 1st, 15th and 30th/31st of the month and be flexible with your date/time if you can. You may find a better price if you can adjust your schedule around the mover's availability. 

- Measure twice, move once! If you can't fit your couch, don't spend money on moving it.

- Prepare for post-move costs ahead of time by simply thinking ahead. Contact your new utility company, purchase cleaning supplies in advance, etc.

- Consider recycled boxes or rent plastic bins instead of purchasing new cardboard boxes.

- Use as much luggage as you can when packing - you can quickly fill duffel bags and suitcases with "don't forget" items that could get lost in boxes for days. 

Smart 9-1-1 takes emergency response to the next level

By the Otis Place correspondent

Smart 9-1-1 is more than start.  It’s brilliant.  Land lines are becoming a thing of the past.  But what happens if you call 9-1-1 from your cell phone during an emergency at your house, and you get cut off before you can give your address?  Smart 9-1-1 has the answer. And so much more.

As a representative of 9-1-1 explained at last week’s ANC 1A meeting, you can now go to www.smart911.com  and provide emergency responders as much or as little information as you choose that can help them help you when you need it most.  Like your recurring medical condition, medications and blood type so they know better how to treat you in an emergency.  Pictures of your kids so they can tell the difference between Marcia, Jan and Cindy.  A picture of your house so they can find it easily.  Cell phone numbers of all your house mates so that if any of them calls there’s an address associated with each one. 

I went on the website, and in about 15 minutes I created a profile for me and my partner.  I’ll go back later to add some photos and a profile for our house mate once I get his permission.  And then, as the Smart 9-1-1 website says,  when anyone in my house dials 9-1-1 from a phone associated with their safety profile, “their profile is immediately displayed to the 9-1-1 call taker providing additional information that can be used to facilitate the proper response to the proper location. At a time when seconds count, being able to provide 9-1-1 with all details that could impact response the second an emergency call is placed could be the difference between life and death.”

But shouldn’t all work places register too?  I’m just thinking out loud here….

Friday, April 12, 2013

Enjoy the beautiful weather while doing some good

By the Otis Place correspondent

Wednesday’s ANC1A meeting at Harriet Tubman Elementary was a treasure trove of great information.

The first item to report is a park and community beautification event at the 16th Street Playground this Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The park is located at 16th, Pine and Lamont Streets NW.

The event is being supported by the DC Department of Public Works, Mundo Verde PCS, Creative Minds PCS and other community members.

They’ll first clean the park and then fan out into the neighborhood, and they ask that you bring gloves trash bags, rakes and other equipment to augment that provided by DPW.

Spring has sprung. Let's get out there and enjoy it.

Photography silent auction on Sunday to benefit local artists' group

The Pinch, the bar and restaurant at 3548 14th Street NW, is hosting an event this Sunday to benefit Lost Generation Productions, a group that brings together local artists and tries to give them a bigger audience. The auction includes photos by Jeff Myers and a live show by some local bands. See more below!
Not-So-Silent Auction!  Watermelon, LIVE!!! with Spades.  Featuring Jeff Myers Photography. 
Your Sunday Funday doesn't have to end with brunch!  
Follow your inner bottomless Mimosa downstairs at The Pinch for a chance to purchase or bid on some of photographer Jeff Myer's best shots of your favorite local and national bands.
Local bands, Watermelon and Spades - some of Jeff's favorite subjects - will set the tone for this not-so-silent auction. 
Date:  Sunday, April 14
Location:  The Pinch  (http://thepinchdc.com) 3548 14th St NW, Columbia Hts
Time:  4pm - 10pm 
Photo preview:  http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.285433474921876.1073741825.206983702766854&type=1 
4:00pm Doors open and silent auction begins6:00pm Spades set7:30pm Auction closes8:00pm Watermelon set 
You don't need to bid to hang out and enjoy the show. No cover. 
FB page:  https://www.facebook.com/events/558284817545851/Additional details:  http://www.lostgenerationproductions.com/

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Girard Children's Garden event on Sat., April 13 -- help out, learn about gardening!

Sounds like a fun event for kids and families! The Girard Children's Community Garden, where kids can attend workshops to learn about plants and gardening, is having a workday and celebration this Saturday at the garden.

It's a neat project, and here's more information.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

New pop-up shop coming to Coffy Cafe this Saturday: clothing, jewelry, accessories

There's a new place to shop, popping up this Saturday inside Coffy Cafe at 3310 14th Street NW. Sounds like a great place to upgrade your wardrobe a little bit. Here's more from the organizations, Carnelian Boutique and Stella & Dot:
The Cherry Blossom Pop-Up Shop will have amazing spring fashion including clothing from Carnelian Boutique, jewelry from Stella and Dot, and great accessories from other local vendors

Location: Coffy Café

Time: 11am – 4pm

RSVP: http://cherryblossompopup.eventbrite.com/

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Columbia Heights farmers market starts May 4, MtP market already going

Mount Pleasant Farmers Market 

The weather is nice, which means among other things (patio bars, for example) it also means it's farmers market time!

Mount Pleasant's market (pictured) is already up and running, starting last weekend. They're open from 9am-1pm on Saturdays, and I've always liked it. You can grab some food for meals, some fruit and then head across the street to Heller's bakery for some breakfast and coffee. Plus there's occasionally random bands that will set up and play, which is always fun. They're located at the Lamont triangle park at Mt. Pleasant Street and Lamont.

And our very own market, the Columbia Heights Community Marketplace, will be starting up in a couple weeks: May 4 is their first day. The market, which has a lot of farmers, bakers, cheese and sausage makers and other artisanal food types, also has crafters and other fun stuff. They're also open on Saturdays from 9-1 at the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza at 14th/Park/Kenyon.

DC Reynolds gets new back patio bar, projector TV

DC Reynolds, always a good patio option with their huge back area, has made an addition: a big outdoor bar. I stopped by last week with some buddies and it was quite busy. Service was a bit slow, but it was also the first or second day it had been open, so I expect it to get better.

And I'm looking forward to it! As the weather (finally) gets nice, sitting at the bar or enjoying a meal out back sounds like a good plan.

They also added a big screen projector TV, so it would be a good spot for sports or maybe just random movies or TV shows.

There's a bit more on their Facebook page. DC Renyolds is at 3628 Georgia Ave NW, just down from the Looking Glass and Blue Banana.

Monday, April 8, 2013

At-large council election coming up: who's running? Patrick Mara gets Post endorsement

Election season is coming again. On April 23 the city has a special election for the at-large city council spot that used to be Phil Mendelson's. Mendelson became the council chair, which means he gave up his seat.

There are a number of candidates, including interim councilmember Anita Bonds (she was appointed to hold Mendelson's seat temporarily,) former Ward 1 candidate and current school board member Patrick Mara (who was also a co-owner of Meridian Pint), former City Paper "Loose Lips" writer Elissa Silverman, ANC commissioner Matthew Frumin, marijuana lawyer Paul Zukerberg, and activist Perry Redd. (Two other candidates withdrew or were kicked off the ballot.)

That's a lot of people -- to help, DCist, PoP and Greater Greater Washington have set up Let's Choose DC, a site that poses questions to the various challengers. Silverman seems to be getting the highest ratings on that site.

Mara, however, seems to have the early lead, at least in terms of endorsements: he's been endorsed by the Washington Post, Sierra Club, and DC Chamber of Commerce. The Post recently described him as the front-runner, and that he's "fiscally conservative, socially liberal, pro-education," but that he also has a lot of critics and apparently makes a living by selling political trinkets on eBay. Kind of wacky.

In the endorsement, however, it said he brings a break from the past, as opposed to Bonds, the other assumed front-runner, who has a long career, including campaign manager for one of Marion Barry's mayoral campaigns.

So, do your own research at Let's Choose DC, and I'll write later about who I'd recommend you vote for.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

D'Vines to start filling growlers of beer in a few weeks

If you're a beer fan you're in luck. I stopped by D'Vines yesterday and saw they had a set-up in the works to fill growlers, the reusable half-gallon beer bottles. The guy at the counter said they hope to be using them to sell beer in about 3 weeks.

So how does this work? They're selling the new bottles for $6 and you'll get 50 cents off each time you fill it up. There looked to a couple rotating kegs, and the prices will vary based on the beer, but roughly $10. Growlers have a number of benefits: for one the beer is fresher, and it's also good for the environment since you're reusing it.

D'Vines is at 3103 14th St NW.

Friday, April 5, 2013

How can we advocate for things we want in the neighborhood?

The other day I got an interesting question on the New Columbia Heights Facebook page:
Is there a website or somewhere where we can petition for certain types of establishments to open in our area? I really think Columbia Heights/Petworth area (14th St - Oak St and up) could really benefit from community entertainment places (outside of restaurants and bars) such as community movie theater similar to the one in Cleveland Park, maybe a bowling alley, an arcade, etc. to ramp up our home investments and to enjoy more the area we live in. Any ideas?
First off, the poster makes a good point -- it would certainly be awesome to have any one of those things in the area. Of course, it also depends on foot traffic, the size of a building (bowling alleys and theaters are pretty big), rent, demand and so on. An arcade might be doable, though, especially one like Barcade in New York, which is a bar with a bunch of video games. (That doesn't get to the poster's point since there is booze, but I would sure go there a zillion times.)

But the point remains -- what's a good way to make it clear that residents want something in the neighborhood? There was the Georgia Avenue Survey where people said what was important to them and what they'd like to see, but that depends on if business people actually read the survey results. And of course, I have the What We're Missing series of posts, which includes a movie theater like the much-missed Visions in Dupont, with art movies or second run features, food and a bar.

So, any ideas? Or do we just have to wait and hope?

(Photo of the York Theatre at Georgia and Quebec, now the Fisher of Men Church)

Six feet under: weird hearse parked at 14th and Park with feet sticking out

The other day I was walking at 14th and Park and spotted an older hearse parked outside the Z-Burger. That's a little unusual, but there are a couple of funeral homes up the street. However, this one made me do a double-take as I spotted a pair of shoes up against the back window, as if a corpse was in there and the driver went to get a burger.

However, upon further inspection it looks like just a pair of shoes propped against the window, probably to get people to look. (It worked!) In the window of the hearse there was a little printed sign for "Lucky Stiff Funeral Home," which is obviously too funny to be a real funeral home, pllus the license plate reads "Eighty 6," as in dead.

So somebody has a sense of humor in the neighborhood. I wonder who drives it?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Want a tree for your yard? Pepco is giving out free ones

Trees are good! They look nice, improve land value, help the environment by filtering the air and save you money by keeping your house cool on hot times and warmer on cool days. So you should plant them! Luckily, Pepco is giving out some for free. See below.
Pepco Providing 2,000 Free Trees to Maryland and DC Customers 
 Washington, D.C. – In its third year as an Arbor Day Foundation partner, Pepco is providing 2,000 free trees to customers in Maryland and the District of Columbia through the Energy-Saving Trees program. Launched as a pilot initiative in 2011, the Energy-Saving Trees program conserves energy and reduces household electricity bills through strategic tree planting. Pepco customers can reserve their free trees today at www.arborday.org/pepco. 
Within seconds of accessing the website, an online tool helps Pepco customers find the most strategic location for planting and estimates the annual savings that will result from the tree. The Arbor Day Foundation calculates that the 2,000 trees are estimated to produce more than $380,000 in energy savings within 20 years. Customers can reserve up two trees per household and the program will continue until all 2,000 trees are reserved. In exchange for the free trees, customers are expected to care for the trees and plant them in the location provided by the online tool. The two-to-four-foot trees will be delivered directly to the customer at an ideal time for planting. 
“The Energy-Saving Trees program saves money and the environment,” said Thomas H. Graham, president, Pepco Region. “More than $380,000 in energy savings within 20 years is a substantial benefit to our customers and the region.” 
The Energy-Saving Trees online tool was created by the Arbor Day Foundation and the Davey Institute, a division of the Davey Tree Expert Co., and uses peer-reviewed scientific research from the USDA Forest Service’s i-Tree Software to calculate estimated benefits 
For more information and updates, visit www.pepco.com, follow us on Facebook and Twitter at PepcoConnect, and download our mobile app at www.pepco.com/mobileapp.