Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Beware of taking Uber this New Year's Eve, prices go way up!

New Year's Eve is a big time for cabs and car services in the area, but be careful if you're taking Uber. During times of high demand (like this evening) they increase their prices a lot, calling them surge pricing. The idea is that there will be tons of demand and they want there to be drivers available. Sometimes these prices go as much as 7.75 times the normal fare, and people were stunned to get bills of $300+ for their normal cab ride.

The other day Uber posted a video about how to avoid the high fares. So be careful.

You might want to try Lyft, Mytaxi, or other similar apps or services.

In addition, SoberRide is available, the idea being that they give free cab rides to people who may have had a few too many. You have to call them though at 1-800-200-TAXI.

And if you know of any other good options, leave them in the comments! I feel like there's always a new taxi app or car service starting up.

Here's what's going on in the neighborhood this New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve is upon us and a lot of local spots are doing things for it -- while some are doing nothing on purpose. Here's a little rundown, and feel free to add other options in the comments.

One good thing about our area is that there are always lots of chilled out, no cover options.

  • The Pinch is having "Blueseque," with live bluegrass and burlesque. No cover or dress code.
  • The Looking Glass Lounge also has no cover or dress code, with $4 shot specials and a champagne toast at midnight. Here's the Facebook event.
  • Acre 121 has happy hour specials as usual from 5-7, a special dinner menu, and the Michelle Raymond Band closer to midnight: $10 cover, free champagne toast, $6 champagne cocktails and $5 for all beers. Here's the FB event.
  • The Red Derby is having an "Old Hollywood Silver Screen Ball," so wear some retro finery, with a photo booth and champagne cocktails. I assume there is no cover. 
  • Eatonville has a prix fixe dinner with red snapper, bourbon duck, filet mignon or eggplant canales, plus lots of other courses
  • Meridian Pint is also having a prix fixe dinner with hand seared scallops, rack of lamb or creamy risotto, plus lots of beer pairings, including aged beers 
  • Room 11 is low key with $5 punch and festive cocktails, and they're closing the kitchen at 10 pm to prepare for a big hangover brunch
  • Wonderland has two DJs, DJ Meistro and DJ Deep Sang, doors open at 8. Probably no cover too, and they are having a hangover brunch as well, starting at 11
  • Park View Patio has a $39 open bar, but it seems to be sold out. Sorry.
Please add other ideas in the comments! I'm going to The House. Not really.

    Monday, December 30, 2013

    Fire today at Hubbard Place apartments at 14th and Otis, put out quickly with no injuries

    Just got this note and a photo from a local resident -- there was a fire today in the Hubbard Place building at 3500 14th Street NW. Here's more from the tipster:
    one of the machines at the shoe repair shop caught fire at around 3:30pm, forcing many residents out of their apts at Hubbard Place...3500 14th st & Otis. Mr. Willie called 911 and used his fire extinguisher. 5 fire trucks and lots of dc's bravest had everything under control quickly. Thankfully, no one was hurt.
    Glad to hear it, and glad that both the resident, Mr. Willie, and the fire department were able to get to it quickly. 

    Lime Fresh Mexican Grill in DCUSA abruptly closes, apparently for good

    Well, this is too bad. PoP reports that Lime Fresh, the fast casual Mexican place in DCUSA, has closed for good. There was a sign on the window the other day saying "WE ARE CLOSED" and he followed up with the company who confirmed it. A tipster told PoP that a lot of the furniture had been removed too.

    No word on why, but I would guess that it just didn't make enough money. I always liked the place, but there never seemed to be more than 4 or 5 people eating when I visited. The space is huge too, so maybe they had high rent. Too bad, they had good tacos (especially the fish ones,) a big salsa bar, and tasty, very sweet margaritas. The staff was always super friendly too, which is often a rarity at fast casual places. It was a nice change from Chipotle, Panda Express and Cava when you just wanted something quick. Yelpers only gave them 3 stars, so maybe that contributed.

    I wonder what we'll see to replace it? Considering it's so big, I'm not sure another fast casual place would work, unless it was very popular.

    Letter from a reader: what to do about loitering and drugs

    The other day I got this email from a local resident talking about loitering and drugs. Read on:

    I've lived in DC four years and Columbia Heights for 2-ish, including Mount Pleasant.

    I've realized that the way C. Heights was set up was to be kind of a welcoming hangout, especially around the Julia's (may she RIP) and Froyo joints with the fountain there and the cement benches.

    Yet most of the hanging happening in the neighborhood is done by perpetual street vendors selling cheap hats, oils, colognes, and sunglasses outside Target, as well as loiterers around 7-11 and the Columbia Heights Metro stop (by Five Guys and Potbelly).

    So here's the concern: Why is the loitering allowed? I couldn't care less about the street vendors, it's the loitering around my commute to the Metro that makes me and my friends uncomfortable.

    I literally witness the the passing of drugs between people by 7-11 and the Metro on a daily basis. At least, I'm pretty sure what I see them passing between hand shakes and pockets aren't valentine's or candy... No one should be blind to this activity either, especially considering the amount of police activity in the area, sometimes parked not twenty feet from all of this.

    And maybe it's these poor saps livelihoods, selling drugs at the Metro from 7am - 6pm every day, maybe even on holidays. Not a fun job either, I imagine, but it really makes me wary of my surroundings and uncomfortable to walk around the area. It also freaks out my friends who commute to my house, having to avoid people standing in the middle of the sidewalk, or attempting to cross the street to avoid walking by this kind of thing.

    Is there any reason police ignore this? I'm no detective, but this isn't a rocket science fix for safety. It also seems to be a theme around this area where people just look the other way to shady business. Anecdote: When I lived closer to Howard last year, it was a known fact the person next door sold stolen bikes for a living. He hid them behind a house on a nightly basis and people looked the other way, as to "mind their business," as it were. Plus, who wants to be the end of someone else's rent check in this expensive city, even if it is petty crime we're talking.

    Anyway, police complaints are obviously an action, but I feel weird even mentioning this concern as a white person, due to all the stigma associated with judging cultural pastimes. Still, I feel no matter who you are and who the people committing crime in your neighborhood are, you'd feel safer if police actually DID something about obvious CRIME, or there were laws (or signs) in place to reduce discomfort to residents.

    What do people think? If you saw someone pass a little baggy to someone else for money in your neighborhood, would you do anything about it? Or, would you go on your merry way saying, "Oh, well, that's just Columbia Heights"? I certainly haven't.

    -Concerned Resident

    Some interesting points, but I'm not sure I agree with them all. What do you think?

    For one, I'm not bothered by the vendors, and I've actually bought stuff from them before: sunglasses, mittens, books and such. 

    As for the drugs, I can't say I've noticed people passing drugs outside the 7-Eleven, but maybe I'm just not looking for it. I have noticed a little in the past around 14th and Euclid. That said, police have always said at community meetings that if you notice people selling or doing drugs or prostitution, to call them. Even if they can't get there in time or they don't have evidence (which is probably why they don't do a lot of arrests, like the reader is talking about) then at least they have a report of it, which they use in planning where officers should go and patrol. The more reports in one area, the more they will focus on that. So even if you don't think anything will happen, call the police.

    But that's my opinion. What do you think? Do you agree with the reader?

    Friday, December 20, 2013

    Cool Columbia Heights and other neighborhood map prints for sale

    Christmas is upon us, and if you're like me you have put off doing any shopping for gifts. Here's a cool option though -- today I heard from local artist Torie Partridge, who makes neat, colorful map prints of different neighborhoods. I've seen her work before at Adams Morgan Day and there's a big one on the window of Annie's Ace Hardware, but never actually saw her site.

    She's offering a $20 Columbia Heights map print, plus lots of others like Mt. Pleasant, Adams Morgan and Petworth.

    Pretty cool stuff. Plus I'm a sucker for Columbia Heights-related items.

    UPDATE: Torie has added a coupon code for New Columbia Heights readers! Just enter WeHeartCH for 30% off!

    Everything from The Getaway up for auction online: TVs, furniture, bar items, car posters and art, lots more

    Last week we heard that the Getaway, the 60s car and motorocycle-themed bar and restaurant at 14th and Meridian, is closing. Their final day will be a big New Year's Eve party.

    And today I heard from Rasmus Auctions that everything in the bar will be up for auction -- car and motorcycle art, TVs, furniture like leather couches, bar fixtures, kitchen equipment, beer and alcohol items, signs and a lot more. They also have lots of old movie and race posters (Steve McQueen movies, races from the 1960s) and car decorations (wheels, signs, etc.)

    The auction closes at 1:37 pm on Fri. Jan 3, and they'll have the bar open for people to take a look at items on Jan. 2 from 12-4. It's online here, click the "go to the auction" button to sign up and see the items.

    Note that the things like plates and cups are sold in a batch, I don't think you can buy just one. Nobody bid on the stuff I want, please.

    Big line for Nike sneakers at SportsZone in DCUSA today, Saturday

    If you noticed a big crowd today on your way to work, you probably saw folks trying to get some cool new shoes.

    SportsZone, the shoe and sporting goods store on 14th Street in DCUSA, was offering tickets to be able to buy the Nike Air Jordan Retro Gamma, which looks like this, and the Nike Foamposite 1 Meteor. They look pretty wacky to me, but I'm not an Air Jordans guy.

    The event is going on today, so expect a crowd there for a while. Apparently there were a lot of police cars there earlier, I guess in case it got crazy. It seemed pretty tame when I passed by around 9:30 am, I only saw maybe 1 or 2.

    I believe these are part of Nike's (and other shoe companies') plans to release rare shoes occasionally, so sneakerheads have to really pay attention to get the new coolest ones.

    UPDATE: They'll also be giving out the tickets for shoes tomorrow: "We're giving them Sat morning at 8am but if there is a line forming during the day, we''ll give them at closing time tonight"

    Photo from kicksonfire.com

    Thursday, December 19, 2013

    SoberRide underway until New Year's Day: get free cab rides home

    SoberRide, the great program that offers free cab rides to folks (with the idea of avoiding drunk driving, biking or walking) is underway again, offering free cab rides up to $30 until 6 am on New Year's Day. So there's basically no reason for you to make a bad decision with your trip home.

    Here's more from the organizers. It's a great service.

    The weather outside may be frightful, but that doesn’t mean the roads should be.

    If you are trying to fight off the winter chill with a chilled beverage of your own and partake in a bit too much “mystery punch” or adult eggnog over the Holiday season, stay safe and call SoberRide!

    Together with the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) SoberRide initiative, AT&T is proud to provide free taxi rides (up to $30) to anyone over 21 in the greater Washington, DC area nightly from 10pm until 6am starting Friday, December 13th, through New Year’s Day.

    AT&T customers can call #WRAP to get a safe, free ride home, while others can dial 800-200-8294 (TAXI).

    WRAP's SoberRide provides greater Washington, DC residents a safe way home on high-risk holidays, including the December/January holiday season, St. Patrick’s Day, Independence Day and Halloween.

    Remember…”Grandma got run over by a Reindeer”, not a Range Rover, so let’s help keep everyone safe on the roads this Holiday season!

    Have you been to the cell phone and computer repair shop near 14th and Spring?

    The other day I noticed a phone and computer repair shop at 3610 14th Street NW, but I can't find any reviews about it. Has anybody used it?

    The place seems to be called 14Laptop and their sign mentions the website. It's not the nicest website, but hey, maybe they know their stuff.

    The other signs on the building say they fix smartphones, laptops, TVs and other devices.

    Angie's List says they have been in business since 1975, but I don't remember seeing the spot before, though they're there in Google Street View pictures from 2011. If you've used it, let us know in the comments. I know my phone could use a few repairs.

    Wednesday, December 18, 2013

    Columbia Heights is the most popular place in the world for returned Peace Corps volunteers!

    We all know that Columbia Heights is a diverse and vibrant place -- that extends to folks coming back from the Peace Corps, who have chosen the neighborhood more than any other place on the planet to move to once their overseas service is done. I think that speaks well of the area -- lots of young people, lots of people from all over the world, and lots to do.

    Chris Robinson of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington (RCPV/W) got in touch with us about it, and we asked them some questions about why the area is so popular, and how people can learn more about the Peace Corps.

    I have some ideas why our area is popular for returned Peace Corps volunteers, but why do you think it is?
    To see why Columbia Heights is such a popular neighborhood for RPCVs, it helps to understand why the region attracts so many of us to begin with. It's all rooted in the history of the Peace Corps. While many of the first volunteers were drawn from the University of Michigan, there existed a sizeable cadre of Washingtonians, Virginians and Marylanders who answered President Kennedy's call to service. These folks, growing up in close proximity to the nation's political, military, and diplomatic institutions, were especially sensitive to the rising tensions of the Cold War. Kennedy's programs provided an outlet for those who supported his world-view.

    The early agency was shaped and managed by a handful of Kennedy aides led by his brother-in-law, Sargent Shriver. Shriver was a supremely-talented administrator, and within a few years the Peace Corps had over 15,000 volunteers serving abroad. He also hated bureaucracies. Resolving that the growing agency could avoid that fate, he instituted a rule preventing anyone from working there for more than 5 years, forcing them to draw new talent from the expanding pool of returned volunteers. Working at Peace Corps provided entrance into the federal system, and RPCVs were soon setting down roots in the region.

    Is the neighborhood especially popular with volunteers who lived in a certain area, or just in general?
    Your typical returned Peace Corps volunteer is friendly and resourceful. They're tough to discourage; some are downright fearless. I can't tell you when the first one moved to Columbia Heights, but I'm sure that they settled in quickly. Surely the composition of the neighborhood, with its mix of ethnicities and languages, was a welcome find. When you're in the field, your quality of life depends on how well you get along with your community. You learn the language, you eat the food, you meet the people, and you live the life. I think that Columbia Heights helps us remember the world, and the role we play in it.

    Sentimentality aside, our population largely follows the trends of the last decade. RPCVs move to the area for jobs or education. They tend to be young and adaptable. They are interested in geopolitics and current affairs. Columbia Heights offers reasonable rents, good transportation infrastructure, and a vibrant social scene that favors cross-cultural experiences. In recent years, a housing listserv was circulated and we've grown an active Facebook group where new arrivals can ask questions about places to live and receive trusted advice and offers. We also have a lot of foreign service personnel who have purchased property, but live abroad, and choose to rent to RPCVs.

    What are other areas that have a lot of returned volunteers?
    Here's an interactive map that shows where our members tend to live. We use it to plan events and predict attendance. As you can see, Columbia Heights is ground zero, followed closely by Mount Pleasant. Adams Morgan, Petworth and Shaw are also popular neighborhoods, and we're gaining ground along Florida Ave. and in Capitol Hill.

    Do you have events in Columbia Heights? How can people get involved?
    We hold 4-5 events every month, which are broadly divided between social events, professional development panels and community service projects. 

    Meridian Pint and The Wonderland Ballroom are popular spots for our monthly happy hours, which are open to all, and we love to come out and meet the neighborhood on Columbia Heights Day. Each year our members vote on a local charity to support, and in 2009 it was the Latin American Youth Center, which is located on Columbia Road. Last year, we worked on a few projects with the Faircliff Plaza Community Center and Housing Counseling Services, organizing an Environment Awareness Day for kids and conducting mock job interviews and resume reviews with adults who are learning English. 

    Our events are always listed on our website and publicly syncable via Google calendar. All are welcome to join us and we're always open to suggestions on what to do next. Our [most recent] event was our Holiday Party on December 14. It always attracts a diverse mix of generations and backgrounds, all getting together to have fun and help out a local organization that works with immigrant kids. 

    And if someone is interested in the Peace Corps, what's the best way for them to get more information? Can they talk to RPCVWs? 
    If you're interested in the Peace Corps, your first stop should be their website, peacecorps.gov. The process is lengthy, so in the meantime, prospective volunteers are welcome to join the community, come to events, and use our Facebook group to meet individuals or pose general questions. If you don't live nearby, the National Peace Corps Association hosts a massive social network and can quickly connect you to a mentor in your area. Choosing to venture way out of your comfort zone for two years and live in a world that is by no means safe or fair is a decision that should not be taken lightly. I recommend speaking to as many RPCVs as you can find, and I guarantee you can find them in Columbia Heights.

    Horse mask guy advertising the Tribe Winterfest, a big music fest this Saturday at the Gala Theatre

    I got this straight from the horse's mouth -- no, really. I was walking down 14th Street on Sunday and saw a guy wearing a horse costume -- one of those funny horse masks and a fuzzy costume. He was passing out flyers for the The Tribe Winterfest at the Gala Theatre, which includes a lot of different musical acts: piano, rap, avant-garde funk, rock, electronic dance music, and more. If there's a horse mask involved, it must be a pretty fun.

    The event was organized by a band called the Prime Tribe, hence the name, and they're also the headliners. There's also going to be food and drinks. Sounds interesting.

    You can buy tickets here and hear more from the Prime Tribe here.

    Tuesday, December 17, 2013

    Pretty neat Lego storage containers at Marshalls

    If you're looking for a fun gift for a kid (or a big kid), Marshalls in DCUSA has some fun Lego-shaped storage containers. Basically they're giant Legos with lids, and they sell singles, doubles, and fours (or whatever you call them, the one that has one peg, two pegs, and four pegs.) And being giant Legos, they're stackable. There was also one Lego head storage container, but I'm betting that will get sold pretty soon.

    I almost picked one up for myself, just to store whatever little items in it, but decided against it. But since they have different colors, you might even be able to find one to fit your house or room (or you know, a kid's room.) They ranged from $9 for the onesie to about $20 for the fours.

    Room 11 offering holiday cakes, tarts, cookies, other baked goods: order by Thursday!

    Room 11, the great cocktail bar and restaurant at 11th and Lamont, also sells a lot of tasty baked goods. Getting into the holiday spirit, they're offering a lot of cakes, pies, tarts and lots of other baked goods -- even doggie treats. They even offer bûche de Noël, a French version of the Yule log, which sounds pretty amazing: French sponge cake (genoise) with espresso buttercream, mushrooms made out of meringe, and holly. Damn.

    There's also a wide variety of other goodies. Check them out below and give them a buzz or call for more info. I'm hungry just reading it.

    Monday, December 16, 2013

    Google Glass wearer spotted at Target, have you seen any others in the area?

    Google founder Sergey Brin in Google Glass
    We may be getting high tech. This weekend I spotted a guy wearing a Google Glass, the newish wearable computer from the giant tech company, at the Target in DCUSA. It's the first time I've seen somebody wearing one in the city, and a pretty funny place to have one.

    Basically you wear them like glasses and they have a little heads-up display. You can use them to run apps, take pictures, record video, get directions and video chat and even translate things, all by talking to it. Pretty neat. However, I'm not sure what the utility of wearing them at Target is, especially since the guy wearing them was also looking at his smartphone.

    Apparently DC has a small but active user base for Google Glass, with some local developers working on software for them and a Meetup group as well. They aren't for sale to the general public yet, but you can sign up for a pair. Apparently only about 8,000 people have them right now, and they cost $1,500.

    Has anybody else seen a Google Glass wearer in the area?

    Need some gifts for kids or friends? Check out the 826DC's Museum of Unnatural History

    This weekend I stopped into the Museum of Unnatural History, the storefront for 826DC, the non-profit that tutors local children in writing and more.

    It's a great organization with locations around the country, and the storefront serves as a way to fundraise. Each city's 826 has their own, and ours has the theme of a funky museum and gift shop. If you need some gifts for kids or friends with a sense of humor, it's a great spot. Most of the things are pretty inexpensive too.

    They have shirts for adults and kids, onesies, books by famous authors who support 826 and also by local kids, and lots of funny knick-knacks. Take a look at a few I spotted, below.

    The volunteer manning the shop also said they could use more volunteers and tutors, to take a look at their site and see if you can help.

    Friday, December 13, 2013

    The Getaway closing, ending with a big New Year's Eve party

    The Getaway, the bar and restaurant at 14th and Meridian, will be closing soon, according to PoP. They'll have a final New Year's Eve party with $40 open bar, then close their doors.

    Sad to see -- I liked the downstairs bar, though it never had a very big crowd, and admittedly I think I only went a handful of times.

    The place had a 1970s racing/Steve McQueen theme with auto posters and things, and also had a restaurant upstairs with decent brunch food, but again pretty small crowds. They had a big front patio too, which was good in the warmer months, and hosted trivia, karaoke and other events occasionally. Yelpers gave the spot 3.5 stars, which is pretty good.

    The Getaway will have lasted about 2.5 years, having opened in June 2011. A PoP reader said they heard "scuttlebutt" that they might move somewhere else.

    I wonder if this is one of those locations that is cursed -- if you recall, the same building to house Social, a bar and restaurant that opened in 2009. I was not a big fan: it had kind of a weird vibe, was sort of too big and didn't really have an identity. The place kind of looked like a furniture showroom. It closed after less than a year -- at first temporarily and then permanently. In fact, some security guards apparently posted by feuding owners harassed another restauranteur checking out the space.

    I hope something successful comes to the spot and wish the owners of the Getaway the best of luck in the future. No word on if this will affect the Dunes, the art, music and event space with a little bar located upstairs.

    Thursday, December 12, 2013

    TGI Friday's says they won't have music, then say they will

    Well, this is interesting. You may recall that TGI Friday's announced they were opening a restaurant at 14th and Monroe, which is under the Samuel Kelsey senior housing. The residents of the housing are worried that, among other things, loud live music late at night would be disruptive to sleep and their normal lives.

    It's a valid complaint, and the Advisory Neighborhood Commission approved TGI Friday's liquor license if they added soundproofing, though the residents didn't think that would be enough.

    On Wednesday, Councilmember Jim Graham met with representatives of the company, who said they didn't plan to have live music at all. That was good news to Graham and presumably to the senior residents of the building.

    However, this morning, TGI Friday's attorney told Graham that those representatives of TGI Friday's from his meeting weren't authorized to speak for the company, and that the restaurant would be going for live entertainment after all.

    Pretty weird situation. We'll see what comes from it. Graham's two emails are below.

    The first email, to the ANC some local residents and ANC commissioners after his meeting
    Dear Friends, today I met with representatives from TGIF on the proposed location at 14th and Monroe.
    The stated purpose of the meeting was to discuss the signage issues on this historic building.
    But when the meeting started the agenda was expanded by the TGIF reps to include broader issues.
    I expressed my concern about how live, amplified entertainment would impact Kelsey residents.
    At that point, the TGIF reps stated that they had no interest in seeking live entertainment permission.
    With that said, I think we can request that the ANC delete the support for within the Settlement Agreement for a future entertainment endorsement.
    They promised to continue to take steps to continua the other noise from the restaurant. They believe it can be contained as much as 96% and they are working on the balance.
    I am quite sure this will be very good news for Kelsey.
    I also mentioned the possibility of deliveries occurring during times the restaurant is not open, from the front of the building on 14th St. As I have in the past, I restated that I would support a loading zone, in order to further minimize the congestion on Monroe--which is already pretty bad.
    Bests CM Jim Graham
     And the second, to TGI Friday's and the ANC
    TGIF Executives:
    You have requested that I speak to your attorney, Mr. Fonseca, concerning whether TGIF will withdraw their request for a Live Entertainment endorsement. I have now done so.
    First, a little background...
    On November 20, I met in my office with TGIF representatives at a meeting they requested to inform me about exterior signage issues. But eth representatives--not I-- raised the general issues on TGIF. After I mentioned my concern about noise impact on Kelsey seniors, they indicated that TGIF would not seek a live entertainment endorsement. The same day--as I told TGIF I would-- I reported to the community on that communication (see below).
    That was a relief since I am certain that nearly no amount of sound proofing will absolutely insure that noise from live music will be contained within the establishment. And here we have a special case: This is the only bar venue I know of in DC with a senior center directly above it.
    I am very sad to report that TGIF has now decided that their representatives in that meeting were not authorized to speak for the company on this issue. And that TGIF will pursue live music. (All the various email exchanges are available,)
    I have had many experiences with bar related noise problems over the 8 years that I chaired ABRA oversight committee.
    Most recently, a similar vexing problem occurred--and I believe is still occurring-- at the Eatonville restaurant on 14th St--despite strong efforts made to contain the noise. There are many other examples.
    I fear that the apartments above TGIF will be rendered uninhabitable as a result of the live music noise (not to mention the outdoor patio). What a nightmare awaits those residents!
    All of which compels me to raise this issue again, first with my constituents at Kelsey so that they know my experience over the years with noise issues. Of course, if they would like, TGIF may again make their case for noise containment. I wish I could have been at the last meeting, but I was in a plane heading out of town.
    I believe
    In the recent ABC Task Force I chaired for about a year, and in an earlier review of the noise problem in bars that I prompted, we have wrestled with these noise issues. I wish I could say that we found full solutions. But we did not. We did come up with actions that will help but will not insure the elimination of noise in a situation such as this.
    The ABC board is well aware of all of that.
    I think this issue is best considered by the full ABC board. But I very much respect the fact that the ANC has entered into a "Settlement Agreement" (SA) with TGIF. That SA supports live entertainment. However, I believe that the ANC was encouraged to agree due to the support that was received from the residents at Kelsey.
    After the Kelsey meeting that I am now requesting, when my information is received and considered, there is a chance that the Kelsey sentiment may change. And, in turn, the ANC may wish to reconsider that provision in the Settlement Agreement. That is entirely up to ANC1A.
    Whether that happens or not, I am will request the opportunity to testify before the ABC Board on the issue of live entertainment directly below a senior residence.
    Bests, Councilmember Jim Graham

    "Metro Rider's Guide" in the Express is the worst map of all time

    I spotted this on @imgoph's Twitter today: it's a "Metro Rider's Guide" that the Express newspaper published on Wednesday. However, it appears that whoever made the map has never ridden the Metro, and possibly never actually been to DC.

    There is literally nothing correct with this map, except that they did get DC's boundary right, and they put Maryland and Virginia in the right place. Other than that, it's terrible. (Click it for a bigger version.)

    For one, it puts the Georgia Ave/Petworth Metro somewhere in far western NW DC. That looks like the Palisades. The Green line does not go there. The Benning Road Metro on the Orange and Blue lines located right next to Nationals Park in SE DC. Then the Suitland Metro is located near the very southern tip of DC, when it fact it's about 6 miles to the east of there. You know, in Suitland, Maryland, rather than Washington, DC. The Silver Spring Station seems to be in northern Bethesda, meaning the Red line in the Glenmont/Silver Spring direction would take you in the same direction as the Red line to Shady Grove, while Pentagon City is not in Arlington at all, but rather sort of in the middle of Lake Barcroft. Roughly.

    In short, if you use this Metro Rider's Guide, you will be completely lost. You might even end up on whatever planet whoever made this map is from.

    Wednesday, December 11, 2013

    Whoa: check out a fascinating circa-1990s website about Columbia Heights

    There's a time capsule of our neighborhood from the late 1990s out there: http://innercity.org/columbiaheights/ . The site, begun in roughly 1995 and mostly dormant since 2001, is a pretty fun nugget of history, both of Columbia Heights in that time and of late 1990s web design, a la Geocities and Angelfire. There are animated gifs, repeating colorful backgrounds graphics, frames and long lists.

    But at the same time, the site really thorough and has a ton of information. The site has a business directory with a lot of long-gone establishments, which actually makes it seem like a really bustling area of small businesses: beauty salons, Christian bookstores, restaurants like Mr. Custard and the Waffle Shop (a former local diner chain, which also had a location across from Ford's Theater), even a Woolworth's variety store at 3200 14th St NW. The directory still lists Nob Hill, which was the oldest gay bar in the city when it closed. It was later replaced by Wonderland. It's interesting to see some of the places that are still around, like the Rib Pit at 14th and Quincy and Arthur's Grocery on 11th across from Room 11. There are a few new businesses in there too, so it's being maintained a little bit.

    There's also an interesting history section that talks about the early days of the area (and they also agree with how I see the boundaries of the neighborhood), some audio interviews with local residents from 1999, news articles from 1995-2001 (I like this 1996 one about the construction of the Columbia Heights Metro, which also quotes legendarily terrible future ANC commish Lenwood Johnson), an interact page with surveys and such (unfortunately the other late 90s staple, the guestbook, isn't working.)

    It's really a fun page to browse, there's so much content. The webmaster, named David McIntire, has clearly spent a lot of time on it, and with the design and the content it's really a trip back in time to before Columbia Heights became the big, busy commercial center it is now. I tried to email McIntire to ask about the site, but got a bounceback.

    I first found the page on the Columbia Heights Yahoo Discussion Board, where I noticed the link listed as the "group website".

    Checking out the Milk Cult Sanctuary: breakfast tacos and coffee; you should go

    There's a new breakfast and lunch spot in the neighborhood, and it's awesome. It's a popup shop called the Milk Cult Sanctuary inside Park View Patio, the new bar at 3632 Georgia Ave NW.

    They serve delicious breakfast tacos, locally roasted Vigilante Coffee, and pastries. I stopped by wth a buddy yesterday morning (thanks to work being closed) and was really glad I did. All three kinds of tacos, corned beef hash, bacon, egg and chive, and fried green tomatillo, were really good, but the corned beef was my favorite. It comes with big, flavorful pieces of beef and potatoes, plus tater tots, eggs and arugula, and it was delicious. The bacon and chives also has tots, salsa and arugula, and the tomatillo has hollandaise and tots.

    The Vigilante coffee was also quite good, and you can get 2 tacos and a coffee for $9, or 3 and a coffee for a bit more. I didn't try to pastries, which included popovers, but they looked good.

    I chatted with the two guys behind the Milk Cult, Patrick Griffith and Ed Cornell, and they said they plan to have the shop open for quite some time, maybe 6 months or more. Right now it's open from 7:30am-4pm on weekdays and 8am-1pm on weekends, when the bar opens. They said when football season ends, they might stay open longer.

    The story behind the Milk Cult is interesting too, they are best known for selling artisanal ice cream sandwiches out of a motorcycle with a freezer in the sidecar. They set up at events and such, and had wanted to have a pop-up for some time -- and this is the result.

    It's definitely a cool spot, and nice to have another breakfast and lunch option in the area. You should check it out.

    Tuesday, December 10, 2013

    Zipcar launches Zipvan, some located in our area

    Here's something handy if you're looking to carry big things around in a vehicle -- Zipcar launched Zipvan a bit ago. A while ago I noticed one on Upshur Street near 11th and the map shows others around 14th and Harvard and 16th and Harvard -- plus it's possible more may be parked around the area, just not available when I checked.

    It seems to be part of the regular Zipcar system, you just use your normal login though it's a bit more expensive, $15.75 an hour or $109 a day. That's more expensive than a van from U-Haul, but also more convenient.

    Zipcar has long had pickup trucks as well, plus some smaller SUVs. Good for a small move or a trip to Ikea, for example.

    Here are some good spots to get breakfast when work opens late (or not at all)

    Le Caprice breakfast sandwiches are freaking delicious This week, the weather has been pretty crummy, and folks who work at schools or who follow the US government calendar got a late start or even a whole day off.  For some people, that just means more time to sleep in, but it can also mean you have an extra few hours to get a relaxed breakfast.

    And if that's your plan, here's a list of some of my favorite breakfast options in case we get another snow day (or if you just have time in the mornings for whatever reason.)
    • Le Caprice at 3460 14th Street NW is my favorite bakery. They have great breakfast sandwiches with tomato, egg and cheese, plus meat if you'd like it (I always get the roll, pictured above, but I hear the others are good) plus coffee, fruit and tons of pastries.
    • Room 11 at 11th and Lamont has breakfast, with some pastries from Paisley Fig, coffee and espresso, and small breakfast plates like a pork belly confit sandwich. They open at 8 am during the week.
    • The Coupe at 11th and Monroe is obviously a good bet, they're open 24 hours and have tons of breakfast food.
    • The new Milk Cult pop-up shop at Park View Patio (3632 Georgia Ave NW) sounds like it would be a good stop too, with breakfast tacos, ice cream sandwiches, pastries and Vigilante coffee. They open at 7:30 am.
    • The Uptowner on 14th just north of Park (next to Z-Burger) opens at 7 am on weekdays and Yelpers like their breakfast sandwiches. I haven't tried those, but I do like their regular sandwiches, so I bet the morning fare is also pretty good.
    • Coffy Cafe across from the Uptowner also has breakfast, mainly delicious sweet or savory crepes, and has a really nice atmosphere too. They also open at 7 am on weekdays.
    So those are some of my favorites, how are yours? Any spots I missed?

    Monday, December 9, 2013

    Local authors' book release and signing this Saturday at Sankofa: "Why Are We Not Famous?!"

    This sounds like a fun event: two local authors, Jessica Pryce and Jasmen Rogers, are releasing a book and having a signing at Sankofa Bookstore and Cafe on Georgia. 

    If you aren't familiar, Sankofa is a neat little spot with pastries, sandwiches, books and events. I wrote about them a few years ago and recommend checking it out. Here's more info on the signing:
    If you love comedy, come support two local DC authors (Jessica Pryce and Jasmen Rogers) as they release a brand new comedy book! The title is Why Are We Not Famous?! 
    The event will be held at Sankofa Bookstore and Cafe located at 2714 Georgia Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001 on this Saturday December 14, 2013 from 6-8pm. 
    If you would like to purchase a copy of the book, it is now available on Amazon.com. But there will be books available for purchase at Sankofa! 
    Book Summary:
    “If you have ever been called awkward, you should read this book. It is not a self-help, so at the end you will still be weird, but you will find new reasons to embrace who you are. For the less than 1% of you who are not strange at all, just buy this book and make fun of us. We really don’t mind. We have willfully exploited our unique lives, all for the sake of comedy. You’re welcome. We don’t just go through life, we laugh through life! We hope after reading this book you will recognize the inherent fame, humor and joy in each day you live. Get ready to experience the amusement of our friendship, our brand new comedy style, our dating quips, and our traveling adventures! This book highlights the collision of two radically opposite personalities that have created a courageously hilarious team!” 
    The authors will be giving away free gifts and T-shirts at the event as well!

    Hope to see you there!

    Friday, December 6, 2013

    Hilltop Bar and Restaurant on Sherman Ave, from Saloon folks, looking to open in January

    A few months ago, we heard that The Hilltop, a new German and American restaurant and beer bar was coming to 2737 Sherman Ave NW, on the corner with Girard. Now PoP reports that they plan to open in January. The place's owners both have connections with The Saloon, the laid back and (mostly) Belgian beer bar on U Street: Sam Jahanbeen is the Saloon owner's son and Kaleabe Getanah is the former manager and long-time waiter.

    I've been to the Saloon a million times and am a fan -- it's got good beer and a nice, cozy, relatively quiet and relaxed space to talk with friends. Kaleabe was the only waiter for a long time, then became manager and is a great guy -- if you've been there he's the mid-30s ish guy with dreadlocks, as opposed to the younger guy with dreadlocks who also works there. The Saloon used to be related to the Saloun on M Street in Georgetown, but years ago the owners of the two Saloo/uns, who are related, had a falling out. The U Street one kept up the relaxed, neighborhoody vibe focused on good beer, while the Georgetown one is more of a bland, regular Georgetown bar.

    When Kaleabe mentioned to me that he was planning on opening his own place, I was excited about it, and even moreso that it was on Sherman, since there's really no neighborhoody spot near there. PoP reported that they'll focus on German and other imported beers (I hope they have the Kostritzer dark lager, that's my go-to at the Saloon) and American food. Sounds a lot like the Saloon, which is fine with me (though the Saloon's food is average, just burgers and the like, I hope The Hilltop has some better stuff.)

    I thought I had heard some opposition from neighbors about commercial buildings coming to Sherman, but in the past there have been businesses on the street, mostly seedy corner stores. There's still some kind of plumbing company across the street from the Hilltop. I don't think this place will cause any more traffic or noise -- the Saloon is a very relaxed, local place, and I imagine this will be the same way.

    I'm trying to find out more about their liquor license and details on size, hours, and so on. Stay tuned.

    Thursday, December 5, 2013

    Free WIT improv workshops today and Monday in the neighborhood

    If you'd like to try something new, the Washington Improv Theater (WIT) is holding a series of free improv workshops in the neighborhood. The next ones are tonight and on Monday from 7-9 pm at CentroNia, 1420 Columbia Rd NW.

    I've taken some WIT classes in the past and they were a lot fun -- they're more focused on long form improv, which is more character based, rather than games and things (short form, like you see on Whose Line is it Anyway?) The full classes cost money though, so these workshops are a good way to try it for yourself and see how you like it.

    Here's more from their registration site (linked above)

    December Free Intro to Improv Workshops!
    WIT's Intro to Improv Workshops are low-stress, one-time, 2-hr classes focused on creativity, communications, and teamwork. They are taught by our enthusiastic and professional instructors who establish a fun and trusting atmosphere.
    Improv is a way to use your creativity, meet adventurous new people, and escape everything with a couple of hours of laughing. Dip your toe into the improv pool this November!

    Signing up is easy:
    STEP ONE: Pick a date above that works for you to register for your FREE improv workshop. 
    STEP TWO: Write down the location and your chosen time, because once you sign up you are totally registered and we'll be expecting you.
    STEP THREE: Come to the workshop and have a blast.

    Wednesday, December 4, 2013

    Two concerts for kids tonight at BloomBars, plus events on Friday and Saturday

    Have kids? This looks like a fun event to take them to. Here's the info from John at BloomBars, the art and community space at 3222 11th Street NW.
    You can check out videos from the performers below, looks like a fun, participatory time.

    They've been named the city's best arts & culture nonprofit two years in a row by City Paper readers too!

    Greetings folks & friends!

    I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. Wanted to give you a heads up:
    Tonight's Show: 
    Cantaré is lead by vocalist Cecilia Esquivel and gutiarist Dani Cortaza of Argentina, Vocals are accompanied by several live string and percussion instruments from Latin America plus bass, percussion and keyboard backing tracks. Larger ensemble available upon request.

    Cantaré, Latin American Music introduces audiences to the beautiful songs and rhythms of Latin America in an exciting interactive performance. Drawing from the musical heritage of the Caribbean, Central and South America, Cantaré performs an entertaining blend of songs in Spanish and Portuguese, while sharing the music's cultural and historical background.

    Saturday Show at Noon:
    Mariana Iranzi is a native from Argentina, professional musician and educator graduated from Berklee College of Music currently living in the city of New York. With more than twelve yeas of experience as a bassist, children’s musician and educator, she has released two professional albums “Aventura Collage” (2008) and “Hola Hello” (2013). Mariana’s music is bilingual (Spanish & English), multicultural, educational and fun for the whole family to enjoy. “The music is bright and captivating" "Children, and their parents and teachers, will love all the songs on Hola Hello" –Spanish Playground “That the lyrics are mostly in Spanish is merely incidental. Iranzi's eclectic celebration of all things musical-reggae,jazz, even electronica-is a party, not a language lesson." –Cookie Magazine

    New coffee, pastry, ice cream sandwich and breakfast taco pop-up stand at Park View Patio

    Do you like coffee, pastries, ice cream sandwiches and/or tacos? If so, get to Park View Patio, which is hosting a new pop-up shop from Milk Cult and Vigilante Coffee seven days a week.

    Running form 7:30am to 4 pm on weekdays and open at 8am on weekends (closing time TBD), the guys from Milk Cult are cooking up their homemade ice cream sandwiches, brunch tacos, pastries and serving Vigilante Coffee. It sounds pretty fantastic to me, though I haven't been around there during breakfast (or lunch) time yet.

    Park View Patio, as you may recall, is the new bar at 3632 Georgia Ave NW, formerly the Blue Banana.

    The ice cream sandwiches especially sound amazing:
    Here at Milk Cult we make Ice Cream Sandwiches from scratch. Everything we sell is made by us. We don't use another businesses pre-made mix or half baked concept. We do this because the we want to pour our own heart and soul into our products and for them to be uniquely ours. Whenever we are offering more flavors you'll see them posted here.
    Our current flavor offerings are:  
    Vanilla w/ Chocolate Wafer Cookie
    Vanilla Bean w/ Chocolate Chip Cookie
    Buttermilk Lemon Zest w/ Ginger Molasses Cookie
    Salted Butter Caramel w/ Chocolate Chip Cookie Milk
    Honey w/ Corn Flake Cookie
    They're also working to raise money for a brick-and-mortar shop.

    Hat tip to the 9:30 Club Tumblr for clueing me in.

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

    MPD looking for Columbia Rd armed robbery suspect, have you seen this man?

    MPD is looking for help to find a suspect in an armed robbery on Columbia Road NW. They tweeted this yesterday with the video below. It looks like the Bank of America ATM on Columbia Road in Adams Morgan. Have you seen him?

    Here's their tweet with more info:
    VIDEO: Persons of Interest in Armed Robbery, 1847 Columbia Rd, NW, 11/12. Have info? Call (202) 727-9099/text 50411. youtu.be/oVU7fsUQyAw.

    Two families displaced in 1489 Newton fire, fundraiser on Dec. 4

    Recently a fire burned a few units in 1489 Newton Street NW, a recently renovated affordable housing coop called Newton Street Cooperative, making two families homeless and destroying everything they had. It's a shame for them and for the building, which has the building has been a nice story -- residents are transforming it and making it nicer while still keeping it affordable. 

    Luckily the fire didn't spread to neighboring units or buildings, but the damage was severe for the residents. Here's an email from Jim Graham's chief of staff, passed along by ANC1A chair Kent Boese.
    My neighbor, Wayde Curry who is also copied in on this e-mail , was one of the first persons to action on the day of the devastating fire that took place at 1489 Newton St NW. .
    He jumped into action and alerted and warned the adjacent properties of the fire. Thank God after the smoke cleared we found that there were no casualties or serious injuries. .
    There were two families directly impacted and displaced, Mrs. Jane Lewis , 70 yrs. old in apt. 22 where the fire originated, is staying with her son for the time being and the second tenant Ms. Dale Walters, in apt. #2 was displaced because of the water damage. She has 4 children. She was headed to a hotel on 14th Street , sponcered by the Red Cross, who was on the scene and working with both families.  
    Mr. Curry is planning a fund raiser for both tenants, on Wednesday December 4th at 6:00pm, at 1477 Newton St, NW Washington DC , in the community room. Please come out and show your support to our neighbors on this very special time of year and share this message with everyone you can.
    A neighbor sent this too, with some more info:
    On Nov 27, our neighbors Mrs Jane Lewis (74) and Miss Dale Walter of 1489 Newton Street became homeless due to an early morning fire that destoryed all they owned!! (A day before Thanksgiving). 
    We their concerned neighbors have decided to host a fundraiser on Dec 4 at The Haven House Building (Meeting Room) at 1477 Newton St at 6 pm. 
    There Mrs Lewis and Miss Walters will be present.
    Please come out and share your love and your support.
    For more information, please contact Wayde Curry (202) 710-0064

    MPD says recent attacks in the neighborhood not the "knockout game"

    A few weeks ago, there was a spate of attacks in the neighborhood where a group of males would punch an unsuspecting person and run away -- in fact, it happened three times in Columbia Heights, on 14th and on 11th. A lot of folks were concerned about the "knockout game," a supposedly nationwide trend where attackers would sucker punch a person with the goal of knocking them out.

    However, the other day I emailed Councilman Jim Graham to ask about MPD's response, and he put me in touch with Third District commander Jacob Kishter. Graham and Kishter said the attacks weren't related to the knockout game. I asked Kishter to clarify:
    [In the knockout game] The suspects blind side the victim for no apparent reason and actually sucker punch the victim and knock them out.

    Our assaults have been associated with other crimes at the times of the assaults. None of the assaults have been serious.
    Graham added that "However, as is always the case, MPD is taking the assaults and public safety in generally very seriously."

    This seems to go along with some of the recent reporting on the knockout game, which some reporters and others are calling a myth, or just another name for something that has always happened. 

    Monday, December 2, 2013

    "Giving Tuesday" at Latin American Youth Center: donate clothes, meet staff, more

    The Latin American Youth Center, the great nonprofit with programs for youth and families, is holding an open house this Tuesday. The idea is to meet LAYC staff, learn about their programs and volunteer opportunities, and donate some new or gently used winter clothing.

    The LAYC does a lot of great stuff, including education, peacebuilding classes, health classes, advocacy and counseling.

    But in any case, here's more info, and you can RSVP (and donate) here.

    After BLACK FRIDAY and CYBER MONDAY comes...
    Get in the spirit of the season at LAYC's neighborhood open house and coat drive kick-off!
    Donate your gently used or new winter clothing to neighborhood youth.
    Meet LAYC staff and members of LAYC's Youth Advisory Board.
    Talk with program staff about volunteer opportunities year-round.
    Enjoy holiday music, hot chocolate, hot cider, and egg nog.
    See you there!

    New, bigger recycling and trash bins coming to DC starting in January

    Are your recycling and trash bins often full, or in bad shape? If you're me, the answers to both are true. But starting in January, the city is going to replace the old cans with new, larger ones.

    In areas with once-a-week trash pickup, residents will get a new 96-gallon trash can (same as the old can) and a bigger 64-gallon recycling can, which is twice as big as the old one. In twice-a-week areas, you'll get 32-gallon trash cans and 48-gallon recycling bins.

    Mayor Vince Gray tells the Post that this is in response to increased recycling in the city -- a good thing, for sure.

    Once-a-week houses will get the cans first, starting with those places where trash gets picked up on Friday and going backwards through the days. DC Government has a map that will tell you which day you are and if you're once or twice a week.

    The old cans will be recycled.