Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Black Friday at DCUSA is almost here: beware (unless you love it)

Being one of the main shopping areas around, DCUSA is often bonkers on the day after Thanksgiving. Unless you enjoy waiting in lines or are bargain crazy, I would suggest you stay far, far away.

It's frequently been bonkers -- huge lines around the building starting going from Irving to Park, people getting in line days before and camping out, and so on. A few years ago the Washington Times wrote about some folks who actually ate Thanksgiving dinner in line -- to me, that's too much.

In previous years they would (smartly) only allow so many people into the building at once, so there wasn't a huge rampage in the doors. There have been musicians and entertainers sometimes as well.

Here's a few other photos and tweets from years past, some from the day before (Thanksgiving Day.) At the very bottom is a good video from the Times as well.

Are you heading to DCUSA this Black Friday, or staying the hell away? If you do, dress warmly!

Wonderland Circus today at Wonderland: music, comedy, burlesque, more

If you're in town this holiday weekend, check out Wonderland tonight for an event. Sounds fun.
A reminder that The Capital City Showcase returns to The Wonderland Ballroom with their latest installment of The Wonderland Circus this Wednesday, November 26th at 8:30pm!

The Wonderland Circus is the variety show where anything goes! See a wide variety of performers do their stuff. Much like any circus, expect thrills, chills, and amazement! The show is Free Admission, though donations will be collected for the artists.

The November Circus will feature (in alphabetical order):

comedian Andrew Bucket
musician Harris Face
comedian Natalie McGill
burlesque artist Hell O'Kitty
comedian Pat Riley

Doors open at 8:00pm, show starts at 8:30pm. Seating is on a first come, first serve basis. Full bar service is also available!

For more info, call 202-431-4704.

Step Right Up!

What: The Capital City Showcase presents The Wonderland Circus
When: Wed Nov 26th @8:30 pm
Where: The Wonderland Ballroom - 1101 Kenyon Street NW, Washington DC 20010
Tickets: FREE ($5 suggested donation)
Info: Call 202-431-4704

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What crappy chain restaurant will open and close next in Columbia Heights?

With the recent news about Ruby Tuesday closing and TGI Friday's possibly never opening, I got to joking around with some friends: it seems like lots of lame chains come and go in our area.

Aside from those two, Richmond supermarket chain Ellwood Thompson's flirted with coming to DCUSA for years, saying they were ever so close to opening many times, then changed their mind and opened in Rockville (of all places.) Lime Fresh Mexican, another chain restaurant, opened and closed in DCUSA, as did Tasti D-Lite, the frozen custard place, and Rita's Water Ice on the Civic Plaza.

So, since it's almost the holiday, I figured it was time for a joke poll: what crappy chain will open and close next in Columbia Heights? (That said, I really liked Lime Fresh and was sad to see them go.)

If you have other ideas, leave them in the comments!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Marion Barry mural goes up at 14th and Randolph

New Marion Barry mural, 14th and Randolph

There's some updated public art in the neighborhood -- soon after his death, Marion Barry was added to the mural at 14th and Randolph on the Washington Pizza and Rib Pit buildings. The mural, titled "Black Rock Star Super Hero," was originally painted by Pahel Brunis for the release of local musician Head-Roc's album of the same name.

It's a modified version of the Washington Pizza mural by Decoy, which featured a person eating pizza, three houses, and a family.

Marion Barry went on top of the houses, some graffiti text reading Head Roc covers the family, and a likeness of Head-Roc, who organized the project, covered up the cool pizza-eating person.

Mercifully, they also covered up the scrawled "Washington Pizza parking only!" text that the owner of Washington Pizza added, and which looked bizarre (and like crap.) 

Here's a few photos I snapped last night, and compare them to the original mural.

New Marion Barry mural, 14th and Randolph

    (the original mural)

New Marion Barry mural, 14th and Randolph

New Marion Barry mural, 14th and Randolph

Ruby Tuesday is permanently closed, is TGI Friday's next?

Looks like some of the chain restaurants in our area are no more. PoP reports that Ruby Tuesday at 14th and Monroe is permanently closed, and when I stopped by last night I saw the sign stating just that. The entire place is empty as well.

Apparently this is part of their plan to close 30 stores around the country that aren't doing well, and this one didn't seem to be -- whenever I walked by, it was nearly empty.

A friend raved about their deals, but that same friend hadn't been in quite some time, and the crowds seemed to have declined signifcantly from when they first opened. It also was also located a little outside the most populous area of the neighborhood -- you wouldn't stumble upon it unless you were looking for it, unlike say Starbucks or IHOP.

At the same time, PoP posted a rumor that TGI Friday's was no longer coming to the corner opposite Ruby Tuesday. Rather than running with a rumor, I reached out to Kent Boese, the chair of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission, who said he thought it was on hold:

"It's my understanding that Fridays is in the midst of some type of corporate restructuring. I'm not sure of all the details and haven't found anyone who can answer my questions. So, I think it safe to say that yes, TGI Friday's is 'on hold.'"

In addition, there is still a for rent sign on the space.

If you remember, the restaurant chain was arguing with residents of the Samuel Kelsey building where the store was to be located, which is a home for the elderly. Those residents were concnered about noise and foot traffic, while others nearby were concerned about garbage. Some of those concerns seemed a little far fetched to me -- this is TGI Friday's, not a bumping nightclub, after all -- but at the same time I can see why living above a restuarant might not be ideal for senior citizens. 

The restaurant reached an agreement with the ANC, but maybe that argument casued TGI Friday's to put the brakes on their plans, or maybe seeing the lack of success of Ruby Tuesday had something to do with it. And that would be fine with me, I thought it was a pretty lame addition to the neighborhood. Maybe people actually do prefer local restaurants like the Heights and Acre 121 to chains?

I've reached out to TGI Fridays, will let you know if I hear back.

But in any case, goodbye, Ruby Tuesday.

Monday, November 24, 2014

What to do on an unseasonably warm day like today?

It's an unusually warm day today, the high getting up to 70. So what's there to do in the area to take advantage, especially since it might be the last warm one in a long time?

For one, there's all the patios and outdoor spots along 11th Street, like Wonderland, Room 11, Red Rocks and the like. They might be crowded, but some let you feel like you're outside while inside, like El Chucho and Meridian Pint with their big windows? There's also more relaxed patios like Looking Glass, DC Reynolds and Mothership on Georgia Ave.

If you're looking for something that isn't eating and drinking, why not take a walk -- maybe to check out all the murals in the neighborhood? Or just go to a part of the area you don't frequent. I'm always surprised when I stumble on a nice little street I haven't seen before, like Keefer Place near Georgia or the little warren of streets around Meridian Hill Park.

Which suggests another: go to the park! Bring a picnic or bocce or a frisbee. It might be the last time you can do any of them for months. 

If you're looking for something a bit more rugged, the hiking trails at Rock Creek Park are great -- keep in mind it gets dark early though. Or just explore the neighborhood on bike -- yours or Capital Bikeshare.

Unfortunately there isn't a ton of neighborhood retail around, but a walk to the U Street shops could be a nice one too -- there are some vintage shops between 14th and 16th that I like. Or check out the  14th Street strip from Florida to U: there's furniture at Mara, clothing at Federal and Palace 5ive, and more. 

If you haven't been to Upshur Street, check it out: there's the new Upshur Street Books, plus a couple cool and funky vintage shops there too, and the popular Domku, Crane & Turtle and Petworth Citizen.

Got any other ideas? 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Mapping out the murals of Columbia Heights

Bloombars mural

A couple of days ago I wrote about the awesome tin-can telephone mural that went up a few months ago on 13th Street, one of a number of murals in our area.

While researching that mural, I found a great blog post from Curbed DC mapping out 11 other murals in Columbia Heights. Most of them I'm familiar with (like the mural on BloomBars above), but a few I'm not, like Chuck Brown and MCA from the Beastie Boys, both of whom died in the past year, in an alley off Sherman and Columbia -- I'll have to check that one out.

What do you think, are they missing any? The list doesn't include the weird and great Washington Pizza mural at 14th and Randolph by the artist Decoy, but that's a little north. I'm a particular fan of this one at 13th and Park, also by Decoy. Can't beat dad humor.

Spotted: punk lyrics carved into the sidewalk, RIP warm weather

It's super cold out there. So it's kind of funny that I stumbled upon this carved into the sidewalk a bit ago near 13th and Spring: it reads "We've been livin' a thrill in the blink of an eye, but baby, we too are running out of time /  End of summer 2010" with some hearts and a cassette tape. And it's true, we're out of time, warm weather is long gone.

I wasn't familiar with the words, but it sounded like lyrics, and sure enough they're from the song "Running Out of Time" by Dead Moon, a punk band active from the 80s to 2000s. It's not bad: kind of a Cramps meets the Replacements vibe for me.

I always like seeing funny stuff carved into the sidewalk -- I wonder if these folks were also behind the waffle-eating dinosaur I spotted a few years ago.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

First taste at Thip Khao, Laotian restaurant coming in Dec. to 14th Street

A few weeks ago I wrote about Thip Khao, the Laotian restaurant coming to 14th and Parkwood, where Thai Tanic II used to be. The restaurant's chef is Seng Luangrath, who also runs the popular Bangkok Golden Thai and Laotian restaurant in Seven Corners. Thip Khao has had a few soft openings lately and I got a chance to go try the food before their official opening sometime in December.

The food was completely new to me, spicy and tasty, though a little confusing: I hadn't tried Laotian food before and the menu didn't explain many items, and our waiter wasn't too good at it either. Then again, it was a soft opening, and the whole idea of that is to work out some of the kinks.

We started out with sai oua, Laotian sausages. I didn't know there were Laotian sausages, and being a fan of encased meats, I figured we had to get it -- and it was great, herby and a little spicy with lemongrass and ginger and a spicy sauce. They came with a couple of hardboiled eggs too with that same spicy sauce -- the sweetness of the eggs was a nice compliment.

For our main dishes, we got beef laab, a traditional Laotian minced meat salad with mint, fish sauce, lemon and more, and chicken orm, a curry stew. Other dishes included grilled or steamed fish wrapped in banana leaves, grilled pork shoulder, and more. Many come with multiple meat, tofu or veggie options. (You can see the whole menus below.)

This is where we ran into the first confusing part of the menu: some of the items had an option to "go to the jungle" for an extra few dollars. We asked what that meant and didn't really get an answer from the waiter, who did not speak great English; I figured it meant spicy. So I'm not sure if our dishes actually were "go to the jungle" or not. The laab was interesting, it was minced meat with veggies, and was very aromatic and quite spicy. We also were given a plain salad, but no dressing. I asked what it was and the waiter, who did not speak great English, said it was supposed to go with the other dishes. We weren't sure what to make of that -- alongside? Mixed in? We mostly left the salad alone. 

I preferred the orm, which was a curry dish with lots of dill and other veggies. It had a building spiciness but a great flavor (I really like dill.) 

Each dish also came with little woven rice baskets with sticky rice -- the titular Thip Khao are those baskets. They were full of sticky rice, which again we weren't exactly sure what to do with. The waiter made a motion like you use the rice to pick up the rest of the food, but it was sort of tricky to do that, so mostly we just ate some on their own. It was welcome through to cut some of the spiciness of the rest of the dishes. 

They also brought over an avocado rice desert, which was delicious, more like a sweet custard, and also helped our mouths return to normal.

They're in the process of getting their liquor license, so we tried some non-alcoholic drinks. The iced longan juice, a type of fruit, was pretty good, but the sour ice tea was great -- sweet and sour and very refreshing. I'm looking forward to having a Beer Lao or cocktail there in the future, too.

In short, it's an interesting restaurant and I definitely want to trying some of the other dishes like the fish or the crispy rice salad, which the City Paper and others recommended from Bangkok Golden. I hope they do a bit more to explain the dishes on the menu or have the waiters explain them as well, as it's a new cuisine with a lot of new items, but in all, I'm excited for it.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Awesome new mural on 13th Street: Tin-Can Telephone

Awesome mural on 13th #mural #columbiaheights

The other day I was walking up 13th Street near Otis and spotted this great mural of two kids talking on a tin-can phone. PoP has some more background: the building, which is a small condo, reached out to DC Murals, a group that finds artists to put up murals. And this is the awesome result.

The artist is James Bullough, who is from DC but now lives in Berlin. It's almost photorealistic, aside from the white and turquoise slashes.

I really like it, it's probably my favorite mural around the area. It makes me want a mural, if I ever had a wall for it.

Here's a few other shots from Bullough's site.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Bake sale hosted by local middle schoolers for So Others May Eat at Annie's Ace Hardaware this weekend

Well, this is adorable. This Saturday and Sunday, middle schoolers from the Washington Latin Public Charter School are holding a bake sale at Annie's Ace Hardware (1240 Upshur Street NW) to benefit SOME (So Others May Eat), which works with DC area homeless and poor people.

Proceeds from the sale will go towards compiling boxes full of toiletries, hats, gloves and other necessities for those in need this winter. The kids will be out from 2-5 pm both days serving up hot cider and chocolate, and fresh-baked cookies.

Sounds like a fun thing. It's great to see kids getting involved and doing something good for the community.

Fundraiser, documentary film screening for local boxing gym and mentoring program for youth next week at GALA Theatre

Here's an interesting event, a file screening and fundraiser for Lime Lote Boxing and Fitness, a nonprofit gym that teaches young people boxing and fitness skills and provides mentoring. It sounds like a worthwhile project with two interesting films! Read more below, and check out the two trailers at the bottom.
On Thursday November 20, at 7:30 at Gala Theater (3333 14th St NW), join local filmmakers, boxing stars and musicians for a benefit film screening and after party featuring stories from the world of Lime Lite Boxing and Fitness, a Columbia Heights based non-profit gym and youth program that trains champions and mentors young people.

Into the Lime Lite follows two-time USA Boxing National Champion Malik Jackson as he prepares for a tough match in the Belfast Beltway Classic. Out of the Basement follows Greg Newby as he embarks on a pro-boxing career after a fall from grace. Jackson and Newby train at Lime Lite Boxing and Fitness, a small gym in the heart of Columbia Heights DC that is 100% fueled by local volunteers, grassroots fundraisers and community support. Both films (documentary shorts) feature music from local musicians including Brendan Canty (Fugazi, DeathFix) The Evens and Buildings. The films were made by possible by the Documentary Center at GW and The DC Arts and Humanities Commission.

The after party features food generously donated by The Coupe (Lime Lite Boxing's neighbor) and music from local DJs. Doors at 7:30. Tickets are $10 and all proceeds will benefit Lime LIte's boxing and mentoring program.

Buy tickets or make a donation.
Facebook invite
Watch an Out of the Basement trailer
Watch an Into the Lime Lite Trailer
City Paper Article about Out of the Basement
A folder of photos

50 sec spot Into the Lime Lite from Natalie Avery on Vimeo.

OUT OF THE BASEMENT - 1 Minute Trailer from Natalie Avery on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Biscuit Lab, popup biscuit shop in Lyman's Tavern on Sundays, is pretty awesome

UPDATE: I just heard from them that they'll be at Lyman's for the next two weeks, then taking a break and possibly coming back afterwards. Read on!

If you like biscuits, get yourself to Lyman's on Sundays for Biscuit Lab, a popup biscuit shop.

The past few Sundays at the bar at 14th and Quincy has hosted the popup, and from 11am-3pm, they serve biscuits and gravy, biscuit sandwiches, drop biscuits and grits "brulee," along with Lyman's beer and liquor. And it's pretty great.

A couple of weekends ago I got the sandwich with egg, cheese and sausage for $6.50 ($3 for a biscuit and $1-$1.50 for each item.) The biscuit was tasty and flaky and the rest of the ingredients made for a solid breakfast (in the afternoon) sandwich. I've also heard the "menage a trois" of three small drop biscuits of rotating flavors; when I went they had maple pumpkin, apple cheddar and honey black pepper, all for $4, and last weekend they had other items like a "Gaijin Bao" biscuit, PB&J and Chili Chocolate drop biscuits. The redneck Benedict with biscuit, ham, poached egg and gravy sounds great too.

The shop is continuing at Lyman's for the near future the next two weeks, then taking a break for the holidays, then maybe coming back or going elsewhere, so give it a go. I recommend getting there earlier rather than later: the first time I went around 2:30pm and they were sold out.

Monday, November 10, 2014

What's open Veterans Day: brunch at the Heights, Kangaroo Boxing Club, more

Tomorrow is Veterans Day, honoring those who served in uniform for our country. Being a federal holiday, lots of folks are off work, and some local businesses will be open for those workers. Here's a rundown of what will be open:
  • The Heights will be serving Veterans Day brunch, 11am-4pm
  • Kangaroo Boxing Club is open for brunch from 11am-3pm, with 20% off if you show a military ID.
  • Meridian Pint will be open at 9 am for brunch
  • Red Rocks will be open for brunch
  • The Coupe and Room 11 will be open as usual in the daytime
  • Lyman's and DC Reynolds open at 11am as usual
The other spots I've seen haven't posted whether they're open or not, but if you know of others, post in the comments and I'll update!

Election results are in: see who won, explore them on an awesome interactive map

In my enthusiasm for the weekend, I realized I forgot to write about the results of last Tuesday's election! As you probably heard, Muriel Bowser beat David Catania for mayor, and a lot of other favorites did well in an election with a disappointing 32% turnout -- especially since this was the first truly competitive general election for mayor in decades.

The results are below, but there's also a fascinating interactive map put together by WAMU radio and Code for DC, showing results by precinct for the mayoral race, Initiative 71, the referendum legalizing recreational use of marijuana, and the attorney general race. Along with vote totals, the site also allows you to compare votes to other factors, like race, household income, who voted for Bowser or Gray during the Mayoral primary, where Fenty won in 2010, and a lot more. It's pretty interesting -- Catania handily won higher income areas while Bowser won lower areas and areas with high unemployment. Bowser won only majority black and hispanic areas while Catania won all the white-majority areas plus some black-majority ones as well. Schwartz didn't win any precincts, and only finished second in one,

Oddly, Catania won most of the areas that supported Bowser in ths year's Democratic primary for mayor, while Bowser won the areas that supported Gray. Maybe that speaks to Catania supporters not voting for the status quo, which was Gray during the primary, then became Bowser when she won the primary as the comparatively more status quo Democratic politician.

The mayoral race ended up 53%-35% in Bowser's favor, with third candidate Carol Schwartz garnering 7%, though in Ward 1, Bowser topped Catania 48%-42%. In the At-Large Council race, favorites Anita Bonds and Elissa Silverman won with 24% and 12% of the vote respectively, but oddly, "under-votes" actually finished second with 22% of the ballot -- in this race, voters were to choose two candidates. Under-votes means they only chose one, so it seems that almost a quarter of voters didn't understand that.

Initiative 71 passed handily 65%-28%, and was 75%-19% in Ward 1.

For Attorney General, Karl Racine won with 37% of the vote, followed by Edward "Smitty" Smith, Lorie Masters and Paul Zukerberg. In Ward 1, Racine still won, but Zukerberg was second. Phil Mendelson won handily for Council Chair.

When it comes to Ward 1, Brianne Nadeau won her race handily, as was expected. Laura Wilson Phelan won the Board of Education race, topping David Do 32% to 22%. For ANC, there weren't many races with two candidates, but the incumbents won some -- Bobby Holmes over Kevin Dokho in 1A09 and Sedrick Muhammad narrowly over Patrick Nelson in 1B03, while challengers prevailed in others, like Jessica Louise Smith over Juan Lopez in 1B07. There were some close races too: David Gilliland beat Dyana NM Forester 186-183 in 1B 06. Your vote matters!

For the full results, check here.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Georgia Avenue Window Walk temporary art exhibit launching, reception and walking tour this Sunday

The Pleasant Plains Workshop, the local art space on Georgia Avenue, is launching their 4th annual Window Walk this Sunday. The Window Walk places art in vacant and occupied buildings along the street, and is always cool to see. (Great logo too.) 

Here's more from them:

The 2014 Georgia Avenue Window Walk Launches on November 9thJoin us for the reception and ArtWalk.

2pm: Reception at Pleasant Plains Workshop -2608 Georgia Ave NW DC
3pm: Walking tour with Artists and Business Owners starts at Pleasant Plains Workshop.

Washington, DC - Pleasant Plains Workshop is pleased to announce the third installation of its public art project, the Georgia Avenue Window Walk.

The Georgia Avenue Window Walk is a temporary public art project that engages residents, businesses and visitors to the community by placing art installations in storefront spaces along the lower Georgia Avenue Corridor.

The project is a collaboration between  Pleasant Plains Workshop, the Georgia Avenue Community Development Task Force,  and a group of Pleasant Plains resident-volunteers. This year's exhibition features five artist installations that connect to the history and current culture of Georgia Avenue. 

Mama Chuy DC  
2610 Georgia Ave NW
Artist: Tsedaye Makonnen

From The Core Studios & ElectiCity DC 
3111 Georgia Ave NW
Artist: Luke Atkinson

Morgan's Seafood 
Georgia Ave & Kenyon St NW
Artist: Jane Claire Remick

Yoga Heights 
3506 Georgia Ave NW
Artist: Zsudayka Nzinga

Eats Place
3607 Georgia Ave NW
Artist: Elizabeth Graeber

Tsedaye Makonnen is an Ethiopian-American self-taught visual and performance artist who grew up on Georgia Avenue and was born at Howard University Hospital. One theme that weaves through her work is exploring the harmony and cacophony between her two cultures and identities. Mama Chuy DC  which opened in 2011 is a Mexican eatery serving authentic fare from te Jalisco region of Mexico, including sopes, tortas, and tacos.

Luke Atkinson was born in Saint John, New Brunswick. He studied painting and drawing at Winthrop University, the Washington Studio School, the Torpedo Factory, and the New York Academy of Art. From The Core Studios is a new Boutique fitness studio offering a variety of fitness classes, a dedicated pilates equipment room, and personal training. ElectriCity DC is an electrical contracting business that specializes in electrical contracting, fire alarm systems, generators, and closed circuit television (CCTV) for commercial, government, and residential clients.

Jane Claire Remick's artistic mediums shift from project to project and are often collaborative, spanning, and combine video, new media, performance, and scenography/installation. Morgan's Seafood is a neighborhood staple and the longest running business on 'the avenue'. Open for over 80 years, it is currently operated by Romeo Morgan who is also the president of the Georgia Avenue Business Association

Zsudayka Nzinga is a visual and performance artist from Denver, Colorado. She paints women and political surrealist messages. Nzinga also leads fashion and cooking workshops around the city encouraging self love.  Yoga Heights –is a recently-opened studio that offersyoga, pilates and nutrition to create balanced wellness for every body, at every level and every budget.

Elizabeth Graeber is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and an illustrator living and working in DC. Her illustrations have been featured in The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, and her book, An Illustrated Guide to Cocktails was recently published by Penguin Press. Eats Place is a neighborhood restaurant and bar that’s a food incubator featuring a commercial kitchen and marketplace with dining space to host pop-up restaurants and guest chef residencies.

Join us for the launch celebration and art walk on Sunday, November 9, starting at Pleasant Plains Workshop at 2pm. At 3pm, we will walk by each installation and hear from the artists and site owners. There will be a chance to mingle and chat at our final stop, Eats Place. (Facebook invite>>)

This event is free and open to the public.

The Georgia Avenue Window Walk is funded by the DC Commission on the Arts and HumanitiesPublic Art Building Communities Grant Program.

For Additional Information and to request high resolution images contact:
Beth Ferraro, Progam Manager: 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

New bookstore, Upshur Street Books, is now open!

The Room 11 family has gotten a bit bigger. A few months ago we wrote about a Kickstarter for a new bookstore, Upshur Street Books, from the folks behind Room 11, Petworth Citizen and Crane & Turtle. And now it's open!

The appropriately-named shop is located at 827 Upshur Street NW, next to Petworth Citizen. The shop was advertised as the first independent bookstore to open in DC in a decade, and it raised more than $20,000 of an original goal of $17,000, so folks were definitely excited by the idea.

The opened their doors on Nov. 1. I haven't been by yet but my friend really likes it and says it's "cute,"  which is a good thing for a bookstore to be described as. It looks like a nice spot and they plan to have events and readings shortly. Their selection ranges from literary fiction to graphic novels, kids' books, art books and more.

It's open Tuesday-Thursday noon to 8pm, Friday and Saturday noon to 9pm, Sunday 11am-7pm and closed Mondays. They have a website and are on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, so check them out.

It's always great to see small, local businesses opening, especially ones that people are excited about. A few years ago I wrote about needing a small, local independent bookstore in the What We're Missing series -- now we can scratch that one off the list.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Pitch, Jamaican/jazz lounge, coming to 4015 Georgia now hiring, getting close to opening

The Pitch, a Jamaican restaurant and jazz and lounge coming to Georgia and Shepherd, is almost here. A few months ago I first spotted it, located above a laundromat at 4015 Georgia Avenue NW -- there's a roofdeck, but that was about all I can see.

The other day, however, a friend spotted a new "now hiring" sign and talked to a neighbor, who said the place looks fantastic inside and is almost done. She snapped these photos too. There's been some work done since last time, with a new entrance and paint and trim.

It sounds like an interesting spot, and it's sort of in a gap -- there's some things on Upshur, and some things near the Georgia Avenue Metro, but nothing in the blocks between. The original permit said there would be 50 seats plus a total of 14 outside. Music will include jazz bands, DJs, and open mic. I'll definitely check it out once it's open. (The open sign is either for the laundromat or was just on.)

Monday, November 3, 2014

New Columbia Heights' recommendations for tomorrow's election: at-large council, attorney general, mayor, more

DC's election is tomorrow, the most competitive in some time. I've already written why I think you should support David Catania for mayor, and I hope you do. I think he'll get a lot done and has already demonstrated his knowledge and skills as an effective and responsive At-Large Councilmember.

As for the other major races, there are some tough choices, especially due to the large fields for At-Large Councilmember and the new Attorney General position. Here are my recommendations on the various races.

(And don't forget you can register and vote the same day! More info here.)

At-Large Councilmember
Short version: Vote for Robert White, not Silverman or Bonds. 
Robert White, who also was endorsed by the Post and Greater Greater Washington, has a very specific and detailed platform for what he wants to accomplish and how he plans to do it. He seems like he'll engaged and work hard, and I'm supporting him in this election, in which voters choose two candidates.

The second spot, however, I'm not so sure about. I have nothing against Anita Bonds, I just haven't heard much from her after she won her special election for Council with 32% of a very small turnout. Elissa Silverman, Bonds' main rival in that race, seems like a good candidate: she doesn't accept corporate donations and talks about her progressive credentials and being above the usual DC politics. However, she also asked a fellow candidate in that same special election to drop out in order to not split the vote, saying she would support him in future elections if he did. A pragmatic solution, but not a particularly progressive one or one that is above the usual DC politics. That has always rubbed me the wrong way -- what else would she compromise on if elected? In her defense, she did release her emails about it.

Courtney Snowen is also endorsed by the Post, and she seems to have a lot of good experience, working on the Hill and a government relations firm, but her platform is disappointingly non-specific. I wouldn't be upset if she won, however. Eugene Puryear, who is running on the Statehood-Green, impressed me in a brief chat at Columbia Heights Day, and the City Paper likes Graylan Hagler's progressive issues like living wage, affordable housing and opposition to the death penalty.  They both seem like good, fresh voices too, and maybe it's time to get someone other than a Democrat or Republican in, like Puryear. The remaining candidates haven't made much of an impression on me.

Attorney General
Short version: Vote for Paul Zukerberg, but Karl Racine also seems good. 
The elected Attorney General position is a new one to the District, coming about after voters passed a referendum about it, basically a knock against then AG Peter Nickles, who was a real jerk, calling Councilmember Mary Cheh "stupid" and an "angry woman," losing or destroying evidence in the Pershing Park case, and so on. (I wrote more about this in 2010.) However, when the City Council voted to delay this election until 2018, possibly later, attorney Paul Zukerberg stepped up and sued the city to have it back when it was supposed to occur, in 2014. He won, and he's the reason why this election is happening. For that reason, I support Paul Zukerberg. The City Paper agrees with me.

That said Karl Racine, who has the endorsement from the Post, seems like he'd be an effective manager and administrator of this new position, having served as partner at a major law firm. Edward "Smitty" Smith also collected a number of endorsements from local organizations like the police union and other unions, also seems like a good person, as do the rest of the candidates, really. Lateefah Williams, interestingly, is the only public defender running.

Board of Education
Short version: I don't know! Read their interviews.
I'm not sure about this one. The candidates who responded to my interview, Scott SimpsonDavid DoLillian Perdomo, and Laura Wilson Phelan, are all worthy of your vote. To be honest, not having children, I'm not as up to speed on these issues. I hope if you have kids, or may soon, you'll read the interviews and pick the best.

Delegate to the House of Representatives
Eleanor Holmes-Norton has been our Delegate for a long time. She will win again, hands down, but I'm voting for Tim Krepp. Maybe more support for him will invigorate Holmes-Norton a bit. That said, Holmes-Norton has done a pretty good job in a difficult role. I would like to see her in the national media more often, however.

Ward 1 Council
Brianne K. Nadeau was my pick in the primary, and is still my pick. She should win in a landslide, anyway.

Chairman of the Council
Phil Mendelson is a longtime hard-working member of the Council and took over the Chair position when Kwame Brown was arrested. He should keep doing a fine job. I haven't heard much from any of the other candidates.

Vote tomorrow! Read interviews with local ANC candidates

As you hopefully know, election day is tomorrow! And even if you aren't registered in DC, or not at your current address, you can vote at your polling place if you bring your DC drivers license with your current address or other valid proof of residence: a current government photo ID, government check or payment, utility bill or other government document with your current name and address.

A couple of weeks ago I published interviews with four of the five candidates for Ward 1 Board of Education: Scott Simpson, David Do, Lillian Perdomo, and Laura Wilson Phelan. The fifth, E. Gail Anderson Holness, did not respond to multiple emails. 

There are also many Advisory Neighborhood Commission seats up for election, some of which are contested. The Advisory Neighborhood Commission serves to advise the DC Council on local issues, help constituents with problems, and also has de facto power over liquor licenses: they can oppose them or force businesses to cutrail their hours or other operations -- for example, mandating no live music, no patio use after a certain time and so on. So they impact a lot of local businesses. The folks over at Short Articles about Long Meetings have done a number of those interviews already, so I figured why reinvent the wheel? So if you live in ANCs 1A02, 1A12, 1B02, 1B03, 1B04, 1B07, or 1B12, check them out. (Here's the map of those ANCs -- ANC1A and ANC1B are northern and southern Columbia Heights respectively.)

That said, two separate ANC candidates reached out to me about their campaign, and I admire that proactive attitude: Keith Dokho of ANC1A09 and Jessica Laura Smith of ANC1B07. So if you live in those two ANCs, read on! (And stay tuned for the rest of my endorsements in another post today. I already endorsed David Catania for mayor.)

First up is Keith Dokho, who is up against Bobby Holmes, a longtime commissioner.

When and where do I vote?
For residents of ANC 1A09 voting is November 4th at:
Cesar Chavez Prep Middle School
770 Kenyon Street NW
Washington, DC 20010
7:00 AM – 8 PM EST

Who are you and why should somebody vote for you?
My name is Keith Dokho. I am a proud DC resident and active member of our community who is both excited and concerned about the new developments facing our neighborhood. If elected to the ANC, I will encourage interested neighbors to get more involved by gathering valuable feedback regarding important local issues and advocating on their behalf.  In addition to disseminating relevant information and being accessible at community gatherings and ANC meetings, I intend on using a combination of communication methods such as email, internet surveys, and website utilization in order maximize my reach to residents and neighboring ANCs.

I bring over a decade of experience working on initiatives where I have represented and negotiated the interests of local communities to encourage sustainable growth and social well-being. I will utilize my experience and dedication to help our community continue to move forward but not at the expense of losing our celebrated past.

What are your main priorities?
There are many challenges facing ANC 1A09 and the surrounding ANCs of Columbia Heights and Park View in the upcoming years. My ANC has a particularly high concentration of large real estate developments that will directly impact a majority of the constituents in some way (i.e. parking, construction noise, litter, types of businesses, etc…).  I intend to focus on these developments with special attention given to the Park Morton site redevelopment which has been recently rebid by DCHA and the development of the Alsco/ Linens of the Week property which takes up almost the entire 700 block of Lamont Street.

Georgia Avenue is central to my ANC, so I will do my best to encourage the success of exisiting businesses operating along the corridor and will work to fill the empty storefronts with new viable businesses that serve the entire community.

How does someone reach you?
I can be reached at or in the ‘contact me’ section on I will also be available face-to-face at upcoming community events and ANC meetings.

And up next is Jessica Laura Smith, who's running against Juan Lopez.

ANC 1B07 (14th to 16th St. NW; Euclid to Girard NW)
ANC 1B07 is one of the smallest Single Member Districts (SMD) and lacks the number of restaurants, bars, and business that many other SMD’s have. While it can be a generally quiet area, it is still a vibrant, fun, and diverse neighborhood. After canvassing our area and talking with constituents, I’ve learned one of 1B07’s biggest setbacks is our lack of community engagement and connection. As the new commissioner, I want to be accessible to every resident regardless of how they prefer to connect. That’s why I’m going to produce and distribute monthly community newsletters, host quarterly SMD meetings, and create and maintain an active “News and Needs” online listserv. This will give me a chance to reach residents on multiples levels and will also create a better sense of connection within the community.

When and Where Do I Vote?
Election day is November 4th! Residents of ANC 1B07 vote at the Latin American Youth Center (1419 Columbia Rd. NW). Polls are open from 7:00 am-8:00 pm. If you are a first-time voter who registered by mail and did not provide proof of residence when registering, you will need to show proof of residence in order to cast a regular ballot (i.e. utility bill, photo ID, bank statement, paycheck).

Who are you and why should someone vote for you?
Jessica Laura Smith brings a hands-on, grassroots, person-centered approach to leadership and representation. As a candidate for ANC, she sees herself as a liaison between the people and their governing bodies. She will give all community members a voice and represent the needs of the diverse individuals and families all across Columbia Heights. Jessica is a passionate community leader and is confident that she can make ANC 1B a stronger neighborhood for everyone.
A social worker and community organizer, Ms. Smith knows the importance of fellowship and community outreach. She demonstrates her commitment to Columbia Heights by attending community events and forums, delivering meals to ill community members, attending local political training programs, shopping and eating locally, attending a local community-centered church, and engaging in meaningful relationships with neighbors.
Ms. Smith earned a Masters of Social Work degree from the University of Michigan, where she focused on evaluating social policy that have a direct effect on communities and how they function within the larger social system. Throughout her career she has gained a wide depth of experience engaging stakeholders, advocating for local change, identifying the needs of communities, and working with diverse groups of people. She works at a health care nonprofit in DC where she focuses her attention on Medicaid and the uninsured.

What are your main priorities?
-Connecting the greater community and raising awareness through monthly newsletters, quarterly Single Member District meetings, and an active community “News and Needs” online listserv.
-Creating partnerships with local police officers and community coalitions to keep residents safe and crime rates down.
-Communicating residents needs and concerns to the entire commission and higher governing bodies.  

How does someone reach you?
I’d love to hear your thoughts, concerns, suggestions! You can find out more and message me through my website at, call me directly at (202) 627-0724 and follow me on Twitter @JessicaLSmith07.