Thursday, December 31, 2015

No frills NYE bars tonight: Looking Glass, Lyman's, DC Reynolds, Colony Club, Derby, Acre 121, more

If you're not looking to spend megabucks this New Year's Eve, or just want a regular bar experience, there are a bunch of options in our neighborhood, all without a cover.

The Red Derby, like they always do, is a normal bar with a free champagne toast at midnight. I've spent many a NYE there and it's good times.

Looking Glass has a DJ starting at 10 but no cover, plus $20 bottles of bubbly and a whiskey toast at midnight.

Lyman's is doing the same thing they do every Thursday: being a normal bar. They'll have champagne at midnight, that's it.

Colony Club will have a ton of food: 1,000 oysters and they're roasting a whole goat on a spit, with karaoke upstairs and live music downstairs, plus beer and cider specials. Oysters are $10 for a half dozen or $15 for a dozen. Sounds pretty awesome.

Acre 121 has $6 champagne cocktails and $5 holiday drafts, plus happy hour starting at 5 pm, and a DJ. They also have a New Year's Day brunch.

Lou's City Bar has the same deal as Acre 121, plus $10 for a brats and tots combo.

If you're looking for something bigger (and with a cover,) Wonderland has DJ Meistro and $10 cover or $15 per couple and Room 11 has tickets for dinner. Petworth Citizen is doing a ticketed Oscar Wilde-themed dinner with cocktails by Dan Searing and Chantal Tseng, local cocktail experts.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Three Kings Day celebration and procession (with live animals!) is Jan. 3

One of my favorite holiday traditions is coming soon: the Fiesta de los Tres Reyes Magos or Three Kings Day Celebration, which tells the story of the Three Magi (or Wise Men) and includes a procession on the street with actors dressed in period clothes, plus live animals like donkeys, goats and sheep.

The celebration also includes a performance at the GALA Theare with song, dance and storytelling about the Nativity and the events around it. It's an important celebration in Latin American and Latino cultures, and is pretty impressive and interesting.

Here's the full press release from GALA. The procession is at 1 pm on Sunday, January 3rd, and there are two performances at the theatre at 11:30am and 2pm. The tickets are free, but they ask you bring a small gift for a child.
Fiesta de los Tres Reyes Magos / Three Kings Day Celebration
Free for the entire family!
Washington, D.C. – For 39 years, GALA has celebrated the holidays with its traditional event for the community, Fiesta de los Tres Reyes Magos/The Three Kings Day Celebration. GALA will again tell the timeless story of the Magi with song, dance and storytelling at two performances on Sunday, January 3, 2016 at 11:30 am and 2:00 pm. These bilingual presentations for the entire family preserve one of the most popular celebrations of Latino cultures.

Fiesta de los Tres Reyes Magos takes place at GALA Theatre, 3333 14th Street, NW. Admission is free, but a small gift for a child is suggested. Tickets for the 11:30 am presentation will be distributed at GALA’s Box Office at 10 am on a first-come, first serve basis. Tickets for the 2:00 pm presentation will be distributed at the Box Office at 12 pm.

A procession/posada with the Three Kings and live animals –including donkeys, goats, and sheep– will begin at 1:00 pm at the corner of Park Road and 14th Street, NW.

The 2016 Fiesta de los Reyes Magos features Bienvenido Martínez as Balthasar and José Sueiro as Gaspar, Héctor Diaz as Melchior, and Neena Krutha as the Angel. The featured performers include Honduran singer María Isolina; Los Quetzalitos, a youth Mexican dance company directed by Laura Ortiz; and the popular dance group Alma Boliviana.

The event also will include the traditional Nativity and the giving of gifts by the Magi. Alejandro Negrón, who is the host of Hispanic Agenda on News Channel 8, is the Master of Ceremonies. Refreshments will be served following each performance.

Parking is available at discount in the Giant garage on Park Road, NW behind the theatre (validation at the theater). Additional parking is available at the Target garage also on Park Road, between 14th and 16th Streets. GALA Theatre is also one block from the Columbia Heights metro station on the Green and Yellow lines.
This program is made possible with generous support from the Inter-American Development Bank/Share the Magic Campaign, Target, National Community Church, Washington Hispanic, Mount Pleasant Business Association, John Fitzgerald, and the Leesburg Animal Park. 

Target sign now just reads GET: a funny subliminal message

A reader spotted this: the Target sign now just reads GET. Pretty funny since it's the height of the holiday shopping season.

I was there on Saturday and the lines weren't too bad, plus there are still a lot of holiday decorations if you need some last minute ones.

Friday, December 18, 2015

City to add rush hour bus lane to 16th Street, convert S1 to express bus to relieve congestion

This is a good news for those of us who use the bus: the city is recommending converting one lane of 16th Street to be bus-only during rush hour as well as converting the S1 bus to an express bus, like the S9, which makes much fewer stops and thus goes faster.

According to Greater Greater Washington, there will be a southbound bus lane from 7-10am and from 4:30-7:30pm it will be northbound. The lane goes from Spring Road to Lafayette Park.

According to ANC commissioner Zach Teutsch, buses carry more than half of the people on 16th Street, so this will help a lot.

Greater Greater Washington has more on the plans, which were part of the city's MoveDC campaign to improve transportation in the area. GGW also had links to DDOT's full presentation.

I hope they do something similar for 14th Street, those buses go so slow. Here's what it will look like for the southbound version, same thing on northbound.

Photo by Elvert Barnes

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

I made a joke Twitter account: Are the Columbia Heights Metro escalators working?

Some things in Columbia Heights have changed a lot, but other things never change: like the Metro escalators not working.

After yet another time walking heavy bags up the escalators-serving-as-stairs, I thought it would be funny to make a joke Twitter account that tweets if they're working or not: except it only tweets that they're not working. Since that is usually the case.

So follow @ColHtsEscalator now and every so often it will tweet if they're running (hint: they are not.) It's programmed to tweet once every 8 hours so you won't get spammed.

And special thanks to Victoria Pickering and T.D. Ford for letting me use their pictures of our sad, neglected escalators.

Comedian Mitch Hedberg has a joke about them, at 0:48:

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

This house on Parkwood Place is doing Christmas lights right

The other day I complained about a lack of holiday decorations around our neighborhood -- I've seen few lights, decorations, displays and such. But then I walked down 14th Street and spotted and heard something -- a house a few doors down on Parkwood that has a big light display, complete with electronic Christmas music. (Unfortunately it's hard to hear in the video because there was a garbage truck idling nearby, but it's pretty great.)

There's a snowman, Santa, candy canes, trees, a light-up manger, and all manner of things, all over the house, their yard, and their porch. Nicely done. And some neighbors are getting in the act too, with two houses on the other side of the street adding some decorations as well.

Nice to see this little group of neighbors making the holidays fun. Have you seen any other houses getting into the act with big holiday displays? And you can do it yourself! The basic white lights are pretty inexpensive at CVS, and Target has a big selection of lights, wreaths and decorations.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Help Engineers without Borders build in El Salvador by eating at Panera today!

Here's a great way to help out the nonprofit Engineers without Borders: just eat out at Panera this evening!

The nonprofit "provides engineering expertise to tackle problems for communities in developing countries" and this fundraiser is for projects in Santa Clara, El Salvador.

To help, head to the Columbia Heights Panera today between 4 and 8 pm today and show them this flyer when you buy -- you have to use the flyer! Panera will donate a portion of the proceeds to the project.

Here's more from them:
EWB only works in communities where they are invited to work and focuses on sustainability by monitoring the project after completion, and using local materials, local input, and capacity building. 
The money raised will support an assessment of the community's needs and will be critical for determining our next steps. The chapter has established a successful drinking water system in the community and is also working on a clean cook stove.

Italian restaurant with pizza coming to 14th and Spring: that area is blowing up

Looks like the 14th and Spring area is getting another restaurant: a reader saw some construction workers at the old Spring Garden takeout Chinese place at 3618 14th and asked what was going on: they said it was an Italian/pizza place and they hope to open soon.

Sounds good, I'm certainly in favor of more pizza. It's not a big space, so I'm not sure if it will be a sit-down or take out (I hope sit down) but we'll see.

I also can't find any permits online for the place, which is odd.

There seems to be a little restaurant area forming at 14th and Spring, to go along with the Red Derby, Lyman's, Taqueria Habanero and the Airedale, plus the yet-to-open Washington Heights, an American and French place coming next to the Derby and Little Coco, the Italian spot from the El Chucho folks up at 14th and Randolph. Sadly I don't know much about Washington Heights and Little Coco has missed their goal of opening this Fall.

As for the others, Lyman's and the Derby are great neighborhood bars and the Airedale and Habanero are fantastic -- the Airedale is really good German, Belgian, French and British pub food (plus rye whiskey soft-serve) and Habanero is delicious traditional Mexican food.

There are also a number of smaller new condo buildings right around that intersection, plus, sadly, another new 7-Eleven.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Where's all the holiday decorations in our neighborhood?

The holiday season is upon us, but it seems like Columbia Heights is not in the spirit this year. I haven't seen many houses or businesses with decorations up, which is a shame.

To me, whether it's Christmas, Hannukah (happy Hannukah, by the way,) Kwanzaa, Festivus or just generic winter stuff, it makes the neighborhood more fun, brighter and more friendly. Kids love them and a lot of big kids love them too.

And it doesn't have to be expensive either: CVS, Annie's Ace Hardware and Target all have inexpensive lights and garlands and such. 

Maybe it's the warm weather? The bad news in the media? I hope we aren't just grinches. Let's put up some decorations!

If you've spotted any good ones, let me know. I snapped the above picture at Le Caprice Bakery at 14th and Newton.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

10th Annual Upshur Street Arts and Crafts Fair and Petworth Library book sale are this Saturday!

This sounds like a great place for holiday gifts (or gifts for yourself) and a lot of fun. The 10th Annual Upshur Street Art and Craft Fair is this coming Saturday, December 12th, from 11am-4pm on the 800 block of Upshur Street NW.

There will be lots of crafts, artists, food, plus music and more, as well as kids' activities indoors. There's also the Petworth Public Library's book sale the same day, continuing the cool gift theme.

Here's more from the organizers, the Petworth Business Association (PBA):
The Upshur Street Art & Craft Fair began 11 years ago as an indoor craft market inside Domku, then the only sit-down restaurant in the area. Domku owner, Kera Carpenter, saw the event as a way to introduce the community to the few new businesses on Upshur St. but also as a way to bring the community together to support local producers. In it’s first year, the fair hosted 15 vendors, mostly from the immediate Petworth neighborhood, transforming the small restaurant into a bustling European-style market hall. Today, the event draws vendors from all over the DMV and has outgrown the confines of Domku.  
“It’s really gratifying to see the little project I started in 2005 turn into such an important part of the neighborhood’s cultural tradition,” said Carpenter.  “It’s great for all of us small businesses on the block, and it’s nice to be able to support other small businesses around the city at the same time.” 
As new businesses have opened, the fair has truly become a neighborhood event. The organizing committee includes the owners of Willow, Petworth Citizen, Crossfit Petworth and Nathan Hill Design, among others. As is the tradition, the Petworth Public Libary will host its annual book sale the same day.  
Give locally this year! 
DETAILSUpshur Street Art & Craft Fair800 Block of Upshur St NWPetworthDate: Saturday, December 12Time: 11:00am-4:00pm

Monday, December 7, 2015

Blind Dog Coffee closing, replaced by Union Kitchen Presents pop-up incubator: first is Timber Pizza Co.

Coffee fans in southern Columbia Heights will need a new option: the Post reports that Blind Dog Cafe at 944 Florida Ave NW is closing, to be replaced by Union Kitchen Presents, a pop-up restaurant incubator -- kind of like EatsPlace on Georgia Avenue, where different chefs and restauranteurs will test out their ideas.

The first pop-up will be for Timber Pizza Co., the pizza restaurant and former food truck opening at 809 Upshur Street NW in Petworth which we've written about before. It sounds like a good opportunity to give them a shot before they open their brick and mortar location sometime in 2016. Timber has also had other events in our area, like pop-ups at Colony Club on Georgia.

Union Kitchen has a few locations around the city -- this is the first outside of Northeast.

Darnell's, the bar that is in the same building as Blind Dog, will presumably stay open.

UPDATE: The pop-up will still sell Blind Dog's coffee and baked goods.

Photo from Timber Pizza Co.'s Instgram

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Columbia Heights tree lighting ceremony this Saturday at the Civic Plaza

It's beginning to look at lot like Christmas, and the annual Columbia Heights Tree Lighting Extravaganza is this Saturday at 6 pm at the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza (the triangle at 14th/Park/Kenyon.)

 The event is always a lot of fun, and there will be free cocoa, snacks, and caroling, plus Santa and more. There will also be specials and fun at local restaurants.

 It might be a good event to check out after the Georgia Avenue Winter Fest which is earlier that day! A whole day of holiday cheer.

 The event was organized by the Columbia Heights Initiative, the folks behind Columbia Heights Day. Here's more from the Tree Lighting Facebook page.
This December on Saturday the 5th we will be decking the halls, and by halls we mean the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza for 5th Annual Columbia Heights Tree Lighting Extravaganza. Come to the plaza to enjoy complimentary cocoa, yummy Christmas treats, and carols. And perhaps even a visit from Santa! After the tree lighting, local restaurants and businesses will host additional festivities full of food, drinks and lots of holiday cheer! 
Iluminación del árbol navideño de Columbia Heights Este sábado 5 de diciembre estaremos adornando los pasillos, y cuando decimos pasillos nos referimos a la plaza cívica de Columbia Heights para nuestra quinta celebración anual de los festivos navideños! Ven a la plaza a disfrutar de chocolate caliente gratis, dulces navideños, y villancicos. De pronto nos visita de Santa! Después de la iluminación del árbol, los restaurantes locales y negocios del vecindario tendrán sus propias festividades llenas de comida, bebidas, y mucho espíritu navideño!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Old Cove, the Dunes space now Studio Crowley Hall architects

There's been some work in the old Cove and The Dunes space at 1402 Meridian Place NW for the last few weeks, but I could never figure out what it was. And now I know: I spotted a sign on the door for Studio Crowley Hall, an architecture firm.

The things near windows of the space, which was formerly The Dunes art space and then Cove, a coworking space, definitely look like an office: desks, coffee mugs and so on. It's good the space is being utilized, though I think something like the Dunes would have been more fun. I never managed to go, but I heard it was a cool spot -- lots of music, DJ nights and art openings were hosted here. Cove moved to the Tivoli Building on 14th Street.

Studio Crowley Hall is on the top floor, where the Dunes and Cove also where rest of the building was formerly restaurants: first Social, then the Getaway, both with a basement bar/lounge area and a restaurant area on the main floor. Social was pretty weird, it seemed like they couldn't figure out what they were going for, while I liked the Getaway, which was a Steve McQueen/car/motorcycle themed place. They had good food. Sadly both closed, and the rest of the building has been vacant since.

Meet your Neighbors: Coach Popsie of DC SCORES

We're starting a new series on the the blog today, called Meet your Neighbors, in which writer Alex Rego talks to interesting residents.

In the first installment, she spoke with Mark "Popsie" Lewis, who coaches with DC SCORES, the great local nonprofit that offers soccer and poetry programs for almost 2,000 kids in DC. (I wrote more about them yesterday!)

Coach Popsie's team from Lincoln Middle School at 16th and Irving was on the verge of winning the DC SCORES soccer title and are also preparing for the organization's annual Poetry Slam, which is this Wednesday, December 2 from 5-8 at Lincoln. It's free and open to the public, RSVP here!

Interview and photos by Alex Rego

Meet Popsie.

Soccer coach by day.

Bouncer by night.

I was introduced to him as an “institution” within DC SCORES. Which made me wonder, how exactly does one go from mere man to institution?

Popsie has been coaching for DC SCORES since 2009; he started with the students at downtown's Thomson Elementary, or as he lovingly calls them his “babies,” and has since branched out, coaching at Lincoln Middle School at 16th and Irving as well.

“I had done the DC SCORES summer camp that summer, and met a group of young men that were at Lincoln at the time. They took a liking to me and my coaching methods and so when they lost their coach in the spring season they actually showed up at my house! I wasn’t home, but at the time my best friend was the director of DC SCORES, so they asked him if I could come be their new coach. And the rest is history! I’ve been at Lincoln for five years and Thomson for six.”

The longevity of Popsie’s career with DC SCORES is only one part of his fame -- it’s Lincoln’s record that sets him apart.

“Within the five years I’ve been with Lincoln this is my fourth championship game -- we have won three of those games and if we win today it will be a three-peat for the last three years.”

Popsie doesn’t like to take the credit for the team's success. He attributes a lot of it to the passion and the prevalence of players from our neighborhood.

“So the good thing about Lincoln, and the Columbia Heights area in general, is it’s a soccer neighborhood, a soccer environment. I always tell people, you know, I only do so much. I have a good turnout of kids every year -- whereas most schools struggle to find players, I have 30-40 kids each year that want to be on the team.”

He spoke of Lincoln’s growing rivalry with the nearby Raymond Education Campus at 10th and Spring and Chavez Prep at Sherman and Kenyon.

“Obviously, everybody wants to win, but even moreso when you get to Chavez Prep or Raymond, our neighboring schools who we tend to consider our rivals, the competition gets fierce.”

And the competition doesn’t stop on the field: it carries over to the DC SCORES end of the season Poetry Slam. Popsie sees the impact of the poetry classes and competitions on his players.

“We get kids that are fairly shy coming in, and the poetry side is where we allow kids to express themselves and be who they are. A lot of times, kids, because of peer pressure or bullying, are not really open to share their thoughts. And the poetry class really helps that. I see the development of certain kids... Taking part in the poetry, finding that voice to express themselves without someone trying to put them down. So I think the poetry side is much bigger than the actual soccer in DC SCORES.”

Popsie has also implemented his own standards for academic excellence. He believes academics are key to not only being what he called “responsible young men” but also for continuing athletics in high school, and later on in life. Each week, every player must get approval from all of their teachers to play and to practice.

“So I really try to stress that aspect of it. And just being responsible young men, owning up to mistakes when you make them, and being good human beings.”

When I had the opportunity to speak with two of his sixth grade team members, Mamadou and William, I could already see his influence. They were jumping over each other to talk and share stories, like typical teenage boys. But what struck me was that they were not bragging about themselves, they were praising each other.

“...This one time, I gave him an assist, it was up in the air, and he kicked it. It was an astonishing half shot, it hit the goal post and went in! Thats one of the best things I saw him do,” said Mamadou of William.

William then chimed in: “For tonight, if we lose, I don’t really care. I just like to play for fun. And I like to play with my friends, like Mamadou, because we always try hard, and we always have fun.”

And what does Popsie learn from the boys?

“Oh man, a little bit of everything. Patience, definitely... And they allow me to let my guard down a little bit and just have fun sometimes. At the end of the day, just like I’m trying to make them better people, they have made me ten times better a person than I was when I first started coaching with DC SCORES.”

As for the title game, a rematch of last year, Lincoln and Raymond tied 1-1 in regulation, with Raymond taking the title in a shoot-out.

To see more fierce competition join DC SCORES at its 18th Annual Poetry Slam! on Wednesday, December 2, 5-8 PM at Columbia Heights Education Campus (16th and Irving) and Thursday, December 3, 5-8 PM  and H.D. Woodson Senior High School in Northeast. The events are free and open to the public, and a lot of fun.

To RSVP and for more details please visit the DC SCORES site.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Today is Giving Tuesday -- and DC SCORES could use your help with their youth sports and literature programs

Giving Tuesday is here, a day encouraging people to give to charities and nonprofits, and one of my favorite local organizations is DC SCORES: they have soccer and poetry programs for students in the area, based at schools, and they're really successful. Students do both, and often find they love poetry and writing as much as playing soccer with friends.

Since 1994 they've worked with over 8,000 local kids at 50 sites about the city, with 1,800 participating this year alone!

Their goal is to raise $20,000 -- and a $5,000 prize for most raised -- equipping over 700 kids with the essentials to play soccer, write poetry and experience TLC.

You can donate here! And here are a few suggestion donations:
$51: Teamwork gives a full soccer uniform for a boy and a girl; ask a friend to do the same!
$121: Leadership provides writing supplies for a school’s entire team of 32 poet-athletes.
$28: Commitment equips a kid for success with a soccer uniform, poetry journal and pencil.
Here's more about DC SCORES:
DC SCORES has a team-based approach for providing youth with the arts, athletics, and academics that will engage and enrich their lives. DC SCORES builds teams through after-school programs for 1,800 low-income DC youth at 50 sites by instilling self- expression, physical fitness, and a sense of community. DC SCORES accomplishes this in an innovative model combining poetry and spoken word, soccer, and service-learning year-round. We have worked with over 8,000 students since our founding in 1994 and we aim to serve EVERY child in the District deserving of a team who does not have one.
Their Facebook has more info on today, too.

And if you have any other favorite local charities, let us know in the comments!

DC Gurly Show burlesque at The Pinch, Dec. 3

This sounds like fun: DC Gurly Show, a local burlesque troupe, is hosting a holiday show, A Tit Bit Nipply, at the Pinch on Thursday, Dec. 3. I've seen a few burlesque shows and they are generally fun, hilarious and titillating. Check it out!
DC Gurly Show presents A TIT BIT NIPPLY!

It’s cold outside! Warm up with some the DC Gurly Show and some HOT burlesque!

Thursday, December 3 @ 9:00 PM
(doors open at 8:30)

The Pinch
(3548 14th Street NW)

Tickets are $12-$15, available at door and in advance for limited seating at Website:

I’m enclosing the poster if you would like to use it.