Bad boys, bad boys whatcha gonna do?

…whatcha gonna do when they come for you?

My roommate ventured out the house to grab some groceries with the Flexcar. She had invited me but I was in hair rollers and it was against my religion to been seen in such a state so I passed. A few moments after she locked the door behind her I heard the loud screech of car tires, then a few more. Then some other ruckus, so in near defiance of my faith, risking being seen with pink and green curlers, I opened the front door to see two cops chasing down a guy on foot, screaming “Stop Motherfycker, stop motherfucher*.” I then look for my roommate and the Flexcar hoping she got out before all this went down. I’m looking for the white Honda normally parked at the Shaw/Howard station. I don’t see it and assume she made it out, until I turn my head to see a cop who has secured and blocked one end of the street. My roommate had picked up a darker car and was standing with the car door open. She yells to the cop “I live right there (pointing to the house), can I just go right in?” and she high tails it back into the house with me holding the door wide open. She was seriously scared.

COPS- In Shaw. A bit too close for comfort.

* please note I don’t use profanity when speaking and at times I feel odd typing it.

Darned kids

The neighborhood kids have discovered the alley. A newly cleaned up alley and have taken it into their little heads to turn it into a playground.

I guess on one hand this could be seen as a good thing. If kids are wandering through that means the alley is now safer, even the most negligent mother won’t let their kids play where there are crackheads smoking up.

But no. I see children as the destructive little heathens that they are. I watched them to make sure none of their little basketballs went into my yard. But apparently, some did while I was at work. I found my back gate unlocked and cracked open. At first I thought I may have forgotten to lock it, but I was told the kids went into my yard as well as my neighbor’s to retrieve their ball. I have since bought a locking lock.

I’m pondering a trip to Behnke’s to ask the knowledgeable folks if they know of a nice thorny vine I could grow along the top and sides of the fence to keep the kids out.

I know I should approach the parents and ask them to keep the kids out of my yard. But I’ve observed kids in my hood. Kids do not respect private property. They will trample your flowers and plants to get their ball. They will run into your tree box.

I don’t mind kids playing, but I do mind them coming into my yard.

Good News- Kesley Garden Apts

Stolen from ShawDC.Com

Kelsey Gardens News Flash: HUD Reverses Decision, Tenants Can StayBy Alexander M. Padro

Aug 20, 2004, 17:18

Last night, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that as a result of a July 28, 2004 inspection of Kelsey Gardens Apartments, the agency was reversing its previous decision to terminate the Section 8 contract for the property.

The inspection determined that health and safety issues that prompted the decision earlier this year that would have forced all 54 families to move out of the complex and could have prevented the tenants association from pursuing their rights to purchase the buildings, had been corrected, clearing the way for the Section 8 subsidies to continue.

More information will follow later, but I thought this outstanding news was worthy of sharing immediately. Congratulations to the Kelsey Gardens Tenants Association on this victory. Let’s all support the tenants in their ongoing struggle to purchase their homes and and remain in our community as they build a better future for their families.


House of the Week

Although I try to keep to houses in the uncool sections of Shaw, avoiding Logan and U ST, here is a U Street area house.

The reason I chose this because it was a harbinger of the gentrification that came. Let me explain. Since 1995, I’ve been getting my hair done at a U St beauty shop. The area didn’t look like much in those early years. I would get on the green line, get lost and try to remember where on Earth was the shop, so that’s how I saw the area, as a lost person. Upon leaving the shop I would usually pass this house on T and Vermont, as I headed towards the Vermont street side of the U St metro station. I noticed it mainly because it stood out. The gate was high and the yard was pretty. Now it is just another pretty house, but years ago it was the only house that didn’t look run down and tired.

So the house at T and Vermont is the In Shaw house of the week.

Lazy butt and my neighborhood

Civilization is electronic crack.

There were a few things I could have done, running around the hood and doing things to the house, but no. I played Civ. So maybe no matter what great venues pop up around the neighborhood, I might not enjoy them because my sweet addiction to Civ will keep my lazy butt in the house.

It occured to me that I might should wander by Gallery-Place to check out the progress of the movie theater going in there. When it is there and the top box office hits are playing, will I get on my bike and venture down? Or will I be glued to the computer trying to subdue the Romans? If a cool sit down restaurant, that isn’t a Chinese, Sub, or Grease-R-Us eatery, some how settles in between S and M, 8th and 1st streets, will I go? Or will I forego food so I can just get the Hoover Dam built before the Mongols?

It’s 8am. And I’m thinking about Civ. Good G-d help me.

Homeless policy

This morning on the way to work I saw a woman I immediately thought was a prositute. Why? Because she was white, way too old to be a hipster, tugging at her dress all weird, kinda skinny (nothing says crack ho like skinny) and butt ugly. Not too many of those types in Shaw. But apparently she was homeless and some distance from her shelter. She started with a question regarding directions, but it just went into the “if you have something to help me out” part of begging.

As a policy I never give money. Never. I will however give away food or metro passes or tokens.

More than just black and white

The Intowner just briefly touched on it in this month’s article about gentrification in Shaw. One little thing is that it is not just a phenomenon of white people moving in and kicking out black people. There is an element of class and general self interest within the African American community that adds to the mix.

Who do you think owns the land
There are a lot of renters in Shaw. These not only include apartment buildings but also houses converted into apartments or whole townhomes rented out to families or made into boarding/group homes. Who owns those houses? Who owns the houses where people are getting pushed out by gentrification? It may be wrong to assume it is always “THE MAN”, the unknown white WASPY figure in the shadowy background ever exploiting minorities. It isn’t always so. If my own block is a good example, two Section 8 houses are owned by a man of African decent (can’t remember if he’s from the islands or from Africa), and the other is owned by the Jamaican lawyer. There are plenty of houses rented out to poorer Afro-Americans owned by middle class African Americans, who live elsewhere. So when the economic revival comes, do you think Black solidarity will keep black landlords from kicking out their tenants?

Two good examples are the building that once housed Sisterspace and the Kesley Garden apartments. The Sisterspace building is owned by an elderly African American man. Sisterspace, was a bookstore catering to the Black community. After many years of disagreement about the lease and a legal battle, Sisterspace was kicked to the curb. Gentrification was to blame. Yes, the economic revival was to blame, but the person removing this black business was another black business. The apartment building Kesley Gardens is owned by an African American church in SE DC. The church is working toward removing the tenants so the building can be converted into luxury condos.

The Good Thing About Gentrification Is….
When Whole Foods first moved in my Aunt was doubtful that blacks would take to it. The conversation didn’t get past, “Black folk, um, I don’t know…” Go into the Whole Foods/Fresh Fields on the weekend when it is packed, you will see a diversity of black faces, and I’m not talking about the ones behind the counters. There are African cabbies, who have discovered the joys of a central location with parking, eating in the booths near the cashiers. There are the all-natural brothers and sistahs, in search of the veggie/vegan organic food you cannot get at the corner quickie mart deep in Shaw. Products of Jack & Jill wander the aisles, possibly in search of something for a dinner party? Oh, yeah and me blowing no less than $12 on wine, fish, fruit, or chocolate. Occasionally, there may be a woman in FF with kids, whose class background could be middle class to working class, but hard to tell.

For those of us who survive the wave of gentrification or are waving it in, the fruits of it are enjoyed. The equity in the house is much appreciated. The new eatery that serves good food, and maybe a place to sit, is nice too. The shops catering to the middle and upper classes that come into Shaw do not have “Whites Only” signs in front. The only signs are for VISA, MasterCard, and American Express, because the only color that counts is green.

In Closing
The point I have tried to make is that gentrification is not necessarily anti-African American. Gentrification isn’t necessarily pushed and helped by Anglos only either. It is economic. But in Shaw the victims of gentrification have a black face and the new residents tend to be white, so it is easy to simply it and say that blacks are being pushed out by whites. It’s economic. People who do not have the means to stay are leaving, people who do have the means come and stay, and because the middle class in dominated by one racial group it is easy to lose site of the incoming minorities.

Yes the hood is dangerous

One of my neighbors nearly got mugged. Well it sounded like a near mugging.

He was walking home and this kid, about 15 years old, came up beside him and asked him for money. He said no, and there was another kid behind him that egged the other kid to rob him. The kid asking for money decided not to and they went their merry way. My neighbor, understandably is angry and a bit more wary of his route home. Then the whole discussion went to the topic of what’s wrong with kids today.

Another neighbor, as neighborhood rumor has it, was mugged some time ago. But despite this my neighbors do not view the neighborhood as an unlivable scary place. We all are aware that crime is higher in our neck of the woods as compared to west of Rock Creek Park. I’ve had my bike vandalized. Other neighbors have experienced other forms of property crime. We mark it as just one of those things, deal with it, and move on.

My neighbor telling his tale joked you’d think this was Capitol Hill.