We will have a colorful city council next year with Vincent Gray and Kwame Brown coming on board. They will add to the Orange and Schwartz (black) we already have. Maybe next election season we can get someone named White, Gold, Rosa, Gelb, or Azul to run. Anyway I joke.

TheWashington City Paper’s Loose Lips reported Ward 5 councilman Vincent Orange’s investigation into running for mayor. Not to be discouraging but you can run for mayor, I just don’t think you can win. Not that Tony Williams is a wonderful catch. So far William’s main good points is that he’s never been caught smoking crack on camera, the city is financially stable, and he has the personality of a dead cat. However, when I mention who my ward councilmember is, I get blank stares. Orange who?

I can’t tell you how annoyed I was when I discovered I had moved to the wrong side of New Jersey Avenue, out of Ward 2 and into Ward 5. In the one year I lived in Logan Circle I saw Jack Evans a dozen or so times. I knew who he was. I moved to Truxton Circle a year later and ….. Orange who? And it wasn’t a matter of knowing Evans because I had lived in his ward, but that helped. I knew who Jim Graham was and a little bit about how he served his ward and the city as a whole. Currently I’m slightly annoyed with Graham for being another non-metro taking Metro boardmember, but whatever….. Adrian Fenty, I know more about Adrian Fenty than I do my own councilman. Fenty is my hero right now for banning single sales of beer in his ward. He’s also a damned good looking man. Too sexy I say, too sex-ey. If anyone should have a snowball chance in Hell for running and winning the mayoral slot it would be Fenty (hubba-hubba).

As I said Tony Williams has the overall warmth and charm of a dead cat. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Heck I’ll even forgive him of the AADD he seems to have, with the zoning out and what not. So far the dead cat serves me well. The city is getting to be more of a place I want to live and shop. The city is becoming more of a center for the DC metro area, rather than some big rotted cavity between VA and MD. Housing prices are still high despite crappy schools. So anyone wanting to replace Tony will have to show me that he (or she) will keep the advancements the city has made in the last few years and not embarrass the city in such a way that it endangers the slow creep to Congressional representation.

Affordable housing, pt1

I’ve finished listening to Kojo Nnamdi’s program on WAMU and I still have no clue of what the heck is affordable housing.

Someone gimmie some numbers.

Okay, I got some numbers I’m not really sure what to make of them. One definition was housing that an $25,000 income can afford. Okay, problem with this number, is that a single? A family of four? Single mom and a kid? What? Second problem, HA! $25,000 pa in DC. Another number thrown out uses our friend Mr. Percentages. Affordable is 30-80% of the area income. Problem with that is if you have no f*ing clue of what the median or medium income in the area is you don’t know where you fall. I think it may be regulated by HUD. The other problem is the income ranges around here are crazy from under $20K to in the six figure range. Oh, and then go back to the whole ‘income for what sized family unit’ thing too. I thought I heard a number that an affordable 2 bedroom apartment in DC is $1200. I also may have heard rightly or wrongly that a middle income number is four people making $45,000. Well that still won’t buy you jack in the city. Well not jack that can house four people in a way that child protective services won’t come by and take away 2 or three of the four for endangerment.

Looking at HUD’s site I can gather what they think affordable is by what they put out as the Freddie Mac load limits. For one person it is $290K, two $371K and four is half a million, assuming we are a high cost area. FHA limits are lower, so low you’d have to be a family of 3 to get something most consider “decent”.

Then I wandered over to Fannie Mae to discover that the median income for the Washington, DC metro area is $85,400. Getting a better link I found the actual pdf file saying what the income definitions are for different family groupings. So if you are single and making $18K, congrats, you’re poor. Poor family of four makes $26,100. Very low income, the next range above poor (HUD says 30% of Median, I say po’), a single is making $30,450 and a family of four $43,500. Plain old low income makes $40,250 as a single person and $57,500 as a foursome. For fun I threw these numbers in’s affordabilty calculator you can buy up to $136,331 of house as a low income single and $187,785 as a family of four. Almost squat in DC. A couple of condos in PG County.

I think I will revisit this whole affordable housing thing again because it is too much of a subject to wrap myself around in one posting. There are aspects relating to DC that draw out conflicting feelings in me from housing vs sprawl (evil, evil sprawl); housing vs the environment (see sprawl); new housing vs historic preservation; social responsibility to poor vs annoyance with poor (see public housing, see Sursum Corda, see Section 8); needs vs wants in housing; and the rights of builders & property owners vs govt red tape and regulations.

Condos, HOAs, bah!

I was chatting with a coworker about painting, home repair and the like and he asked if I had to go through my HOA. Thank G-d I don’t. A good thing about the hood, no home owner associations (HOA). I can paint my house pink with yellow polka dots. I can put out the world’s ugliest garden gnomes. Or I could have any style fence or mailbox I darned well please.

I’m also happy I don’t live in a condo. There are some huge pluses that come with condo living, but Nora Bombay is paying almost $600 a month in condo fees. Of course her fees include maintenance, cable, electricity, indoor parking, AC, heat and water. But still $600 a month, that’s almost like a small mortgage.

I’ve heard enough horror stories about HOAs and condo boards that get power hungry and crazy, see Columbia, MD. Why would I want to expose myself to that? No I will take the hood, where people have the freedom to put up tacky Christmas lights, have crappy looking yards, and have to pay directly for their own utilities.

Bates St Meeting (too bad you missed this one)

Ok 1st things first, before I forget, there may be a Christmas Tree lighting at the Florida and 1st Street park (where the local winos hang) at 3:30pm this Sunday. I left early so if any changes were made, I don’t know about them.

Well this Bates meeting was nice. It was less of a meeting and more of a party. There were grapes, and those Lindt chocolates. If it weren’t in the basement of a Baptist Church the Egg Nog might have had a bit more kick. It was good, it was laid back. Q Street, Bates Street and 1st Street were well represented. Jim talked about the history of the Bates Area Civic Association, Scott talked about the Truxton Circle site (note: need to mail restaurant review to Scott or Matt), and the rest of us talked about our houses. It was a positive discussion.

I got sleepy and had to call my mom so I left. As I was leaving I saw Councilmember Vincent Orange heading towards the Church with his assistant/body guard/ random guy, so I missed out on that. But I’m happy to see Mr. Orange in a post election period. I am happy that he has discovered the NW section of the Ward because I was getting the feeling last year that we were the redheaded stepchild of Ward 5.

The Bethesdites

Over dinner the Bethesdites, friends of mine, were wondering how on earth they were going to buy a home with the real estate prices going up. Then they turned to me to ask about Shaw. Now I know their temperment and there is a reason why they live in Bethesda. I really don’t think they would like Shaw. I like Shaw and I tolerate Shaw. The good stuff, like restaurants and such, is more than 4 blocks away west of 9th Street. The stuff closest to the house is okay. Then there is the witnessing two guys in a knife fight a block from the house, doesn’t make me think I need to move out of the hood. I’ve been informed that someone was shot a block from the house, I’m still unfazed. The Bethesdites, I’m afraid, would have seen that as a good reason to sell.

I’m going to have the Bethesdites over for dinner next week. As they have never set foot in Shaw, I figure this is a good opportunity to see Shaw in is glory and ugly. Well they won’t see too much of the hood as they are driving and will see as much as one can from 30-45 mph. Or from the parked car to the house, which depending if there are any church services when they come can be from 20 feet to 1 block.

Shaw is not Bethesda, and that’s okay. Of course, I really would like a Barnes and Noble.

Holiday going ons

via Jim Berry



Monday, December 6, 2004

Mount Sinai Baptist Church

3rd and Q Streets, N.W.

Rooms 1 and 2

7:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.

Please join us for an evening of fun and fellowship. This is an ideal

opportunity to meet and greet neighbors from all parts of our


For more information regarding the meeting and/or the Association,

contact Jim Berry at (202) 387-8520 or at


Job Opportunity at the US Postal Service:


We are told that the US Postal Service is recruiting for Casual

Carriers at $16.00/hr. for the holiday season. To qualify, one must have a five

year driving history, with a good driving record for the past two

consecutive years. Interested persons should contact Vonn J. Jones, Secretary for

Rhondalyn McDow, Human Resources Manager, at (202) 636-1281.

14th Annual BZB Black Gift and Art Show:


The 14th Annual BZB Black Gift and Art Show will take place on the

first three Saturdays in December (December 4th, 11th, and 18th) at Shiloh

Baptist Church’s Henry C. Gregory III Family Life Center, 1510 9th Street, NW.

Show hours are 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Admission is free. Featured are

Afrocentric clothing, jewelry, art, and collectibles. For more information, call


Häändel’s “Messiah” at Shiloh Baptist Church:


On Sunday, December 12, 2004, at 5:00 PM, Shiloh Baptist Church’s

Senior Choir will present a concert of excerpts from “”Messiah”” by George

Friederic Häändel (1685-1759). The church is located at 1500 9th

Street, NW. A reception will follow in Heritage Hall at the Henry C. Gregory, III

Family Life Center, 1510 9th Street, NW. Admission is free, and all are

welcome to attend. The Shiloh Senior Choir is led by Thomas Dixon Tyler,

director, and Evelyn Simpson-Curenton, organist. Soloists will be Michele

Gutrick, soprano; Larry D. Hylton, tenor; Sylvia V.C. Twine, mezzo soprano; and

Steven E. Herring, baritone. They will be accompanied by a string

ensemble, brass, and timpani. For more information, call Shiloh Baptist Church

at 202-232-4200 or visit

Fifth District Police Citizen’s Advisory Council Annual Winter Holiday



5D CAC Chairperson and Truxton Circle resident Art Slater invites and

encourages you to attend the Annual Winter Holiday Party on Thursday,

December 16, 2004 from 7pm- 9pm, at the Washington Center For Aging

Services, 2601 18th St. NE . We are told that there was much fun and

fellowship at last year’s party and the same will be the case this


Happy Hannukah,

Merry Christmas,

Feliz Navidad,

Happy Kwanzaa

Gardening in the city

I may resue this for the main site, or not.

Gardening in Shaw can be a challenge. Sometimes you don’t have a yard. Sometimes you do have a yard but it will never see sun. And then there are a dozen other challenges that make you roll your eyes when you look at regular gardening books and magazines, they assume you have space and sun. Then there are your own worries, worries I have discovered are a bit unfounded. I worried that people would come into my yard and steal my tomatoes. No one came into my yard to steal them. The greatest threat was the newspaperman who I swear always aimed for the vine knocking over a few unripened tomatoes. Then there are other worries about soil contamination, vandalism, and the run of the mill garden worries of pests and disease.

Looking for information for urban gardening is a bit fun. Below are some of the links found about gardening in the city.

Urban Gardening Links

City Farmer – Straight outta Canada is a wonderful resource for serious urban gardening. What is pretty cool is the discussion forum where people present questions and discuss gardening ideas that are particular to urban dwellers.

DC Cooperative Extension Service – Maybe you can find some information about DC’s cooperative extension service

UMD Home and Garden Information Center– Very informative, particularly the plant diagnostic tool, to figure out what is killing your plants. Site also has helpful online publications for the home gardener.

Rough Terrain Urban Gardens– Pennsylvania based and sponsored by International Paper. There are some great stories about people creating gardens in an urban landscape and some simple how to’s. More inspiring than informative.

Path to Freedom– For the anti-corporate types who want to throw off the chains of dependency from the Man by growing their own food. Uh, ok. Parts of it are very informative when researching the impact of a small (in the eye of the beholder) garden . The main site is interesting should you desire to live in an urban area but off the grid.

Container gardens the city dweller’s guide– Oh my I didn’t know you could use a child’s wading pool as a garden container…. now I do. Creative and informative and geared towards the city gardener.

Green Institute’s Urban Garden Tips– Includes page on gardening in lead contaminated soils. Perfect for DC soil.

Journey to Forever organic garden– Lots of useful links to a library of articles related to urban gardening and container gardening.

And you were doing so well….

There is a house on the 400 block R St west of NJ Ave that had been in the process of being rehabbed. Everyso often we’d see little bits of progress here and there and admired how far they got with each improvement.

Yesterday they ruined it. They put the most ghetto a$$ed looking fence around it. Not chain linked. I would still respect their work with a chained linked fence. Not a nice cheap wooden picket fence. Nope. They are putting up metal railing, the type used for exterior stairs and staircasing. I don’t believe this was meant for gates or fences, and to use it for a fence is just to add a dimension of ugly to your project.

Something good I can say about the kids

Okay, yesterday was my post that was a little anti-child, well more anti-stupid knucleheaded child. Reading an article about the lack of walking and the troubles with programs to promote walking to school I have one good thing to say about the children of Shaw, they can get from point A to point B without getting killed or kidnapped, without parental supervision.

In the Salon article “Walk to School yes, but don’t forget your lawyer,” the problem with getting kids to walk to school are SUV driving parents driving their kids to school. Reading about the attitudes some parents had regarding their children, I was thinking about the kids around my hood, which were the opposite. The kids around here have a bit more leeway. They might be limited to the block or a few blocks but they walk. I know a few who walk to school alone, navigating New Jersey Avenue to get there.

Raise your kid in the city and get free streetsmarts. The kids of this city are somewhat smart enough to navigate the subway, buses and streets alone. Now if they would just not act stupid I’d be so happy.