March 2013 Archives

Decade in Review- Characters- DM

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I honestly don't know what to make of some of my early posts where I named some folks and well gave names to some, one being Drama Momma, whose actual name I have forgotten. Then there was a nickname I may have mentioned but I don't see it in a search, Cindy [insert title here]. Because I believe Cindy has changed and I see her everyso often, I feel no desire to dig up her dark past.

Dramma Momma, is another story. I see her rarely. I know she's around. But I don't think she has changed much, so I don't feel that I'm damaging any recovery. DM, or Dramma Momma was a neighbor that I (and others) had on again off again issues with. I first mentioned her in 2003. And I mentioned her off and on after that. She was a troublesome neighbor and a broken soul. She was a single mother with a very angry son. She'd be on the wagon and fall off. Some days she'd curse me out on the street, others invite me over for a bite. She was loud. She'd blast her music for hours.

I would be lying if I said I missed her. I'm very happy that her landlord was forced to sell most of his properties (probably because he was overextended), which resulted in a nice fellow from Maryland buying the house she rented. This nice fellow fixed up the house a bit, moved in, then moved out to follow his dreams. Now rent there is a nice couple who are musicians who make waaaaay less noise than DM. Heck I never hear them.

Gentrification-wise, her move was another African American renter being replaced by whites. Neighborwise, it was a switch out from one problematic neighbor where the drug dealers would comfortably stand in front of or in her yard, to new neighbors who don't assist the criminals and work to improve their yard and the street. Yes the story of gentrification has the sweet old lady who'd been there for years, suddenly tossed out by evil white people. This is not that case here. I'm sure I wasn't the only one breathing a sigh of relief to see her go. She was the sign of a bad neighborhood, with chaos reigning all about her, spilling into the sidewalks and seeping through the party walls. The party putting her out was a black landlord who had his own problems and had to sell the house DM rented and another house on the block. I suspect he had financial issues of his own, forcing the sale. So even the idea of white landords don't work with the usual gentrification line here. Was it gentrification that put her out? Don't know, don't care. She's gone and it is peaceful.

The Long Goodbye- 10 years of InShaw blogging


10 years is a good number. The earliest blog entry I can find dates to March 18, 2003, but I don't think that was my first entry. It may have been the start of bothering to archive my posts, and even then I wasn't posting much. Anyway, today is the day I stop posting new stuff. I may do some 2013 review in December.

Looking back I believe my goal was to a) tell my friends what was going on and later b) to bring attention to this little section of Shaw, hence the name "In Shaw". Yes, I call it Truxton Circle these days, but I also think of it as part of the larger Shaw community. Because it started as a blog for friends I threw on the "now with more gentrification" tagline and back then I was more willing to be more snarky and mean. Now I'm aware of a greater readership, at times I've been quoted by DC blogs or the Examiner, so now there is more tongue biting. I've been accused of being racist, white, and male, and if you know me you know I'm none of those. In all these years I've have two people threaten to sue me for what I've written. I've also gotten free booze, invited to some great art performances (thanks Wholly Mammoth and ?banished productions?), met new friends and neighbors, advised people looking to buy in the area, helped unseat an ANC dictator, and have totally enjoyed my 15 blocks of fame.

But I've got to move on. There are other things and projects I want to devote time and mental energy, such as the Truxton Circle Neighborhood Genealogy Project, Vacant Properties and some off-line history/archival things. And face it there are other bloggers who have more energy to keep residents of Shaw informed. If there is a shark in the hood, I've jumped it.

Unfortunately/Fortunately, I'm not going cold turkey, thus the long goodbye. Starting now until December I'm going to review my past 10 years of posts. It will be like when Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me goes on vacation or any other TV show that has a zillion flashbacks because the star is in rehab or something like that. Not only is it a very long decade in review, it also allows me to check the site as I'll be deleting the original posts on to make room for material. I've been with my host for nearly 15 years, I've used up 90% of my storage space and I've got to do some clean up.

Physically, I'm staying put. I know these blog changes come with some move out to the burbs. Not so here. We have no real plans to relocate, but as housing prices rise to the level of ridiculous, I can't say that I'm not tempted to sell/rent and go someplace cheaper. But I've got a great commute that is 20 minutes door to door on a good day, why give that up? We like our neighbors and what Shaw, our part of Shaw has become. We also love what our neighbor Bloomingdale has developed into. The neighborhood has changed into something that is well worth a decade of writing about. Let's review....

A Program for Bates Street

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This is not another pre-WWII photo, this is from the 60s. 1960s.

Now I am sure I posted the publication by the District of Columbia Redevelopment Land Agency (RLA) before, but just in case, I'll put it out there for y'all again. In the late 60s the RLA put out "A Program for Bates Street" (PDF), which is currently located in the archives of George Washington University.

My own curiosity with the Great Society and the flurry of social programs that came out of that period, is how well those goals were achieved. So let's take a look at the program.

The program had 3 main objectives:

1. Introduce a greater amount of housing types and sizes designed to relieve the overcrowding in exisitng housing.

2. Use housing programs for both rental and owned "that will be most responsive to the economic profile of the residents of the Area, given the current costrainst of those programs."

3. Provide needed amenities such as open space for active and passive recreation, off street parking and "separate pedestrian and vehicular circulation systems."

I have to hit #3 first. What the hell is a pedestrian and vehicular circulation system? Sidewalks and roads? If they are sidewalks and roads then they should say sidewalks and roads!

Bates Streets, the unit to the 200 blocks seem pretty unchanged footprint-wise from the days when they were built, as with the rest of the targeted squares. As hinted in the program, Sq. 551 did get new housing, slightly different than the Bates Street and similar Q Street housing, providing that variety of housing types.  As far as overcrowding goes, I think there might have been more than they eye could have seen. I'm noticing with this 1st photograph there is a vacant house all boarded up. With pre-war censuses I can say there might be overcrowding in one  or two houses and the neighboring house only has one or two people. I don't doubt that many houses were overcrowded, but I wonder to the various causes of why. Anyway, the 1st objective was achieved with the removal of the alley dwellings on 551 and the building of the NW Co-op.

Manon Bates St68

The second objective, I have no idea what exactly the goal was supposed to be there. It is too vague to me. Maybe the authors were dancing around something. So I'm going to give that objective a no.

Lastly on the brochure, since Sq. 551 was part of the mix, I'm going to guess the open space amenity is the Florida Avenue Park. I also notice that it is an open space and not a green space. Now this is the park of the past, the park where passive recreation included drunks being passed out on play equipment. I realy appreciate the work of John H. and the Friends of the Park to make the place a better amenity than what the planners of the 60s could do. The Bates Area does have off street parking, I did not realize this was a pressing issue back then.

 Lastly on the whole thing, notice no bars. No bars on the windows. No bars on the doors. I have my theories, but I wonder if it is something that comes later when crime gets worse in the area.

It's not there no more, and that's okay

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This woman lived in an alley that no longer exists. Since the photograph was taken sometime between 1934-1941, there is a possiblity, that's she is long dead and isn't too concerned with housing.

The alley is Reeves Alley, sometimes Cookey Alley that was on square 551, where Mt. Sinai Baptist, the Northwest Cooperative and the Florida Avenue park sit. This is one of a couple of photos taken by the Alley Dwelling Authority to highlight the problems of alley residences and give the agency a good reason to tear down or convert alley homes. Looking at the aerial photo from the 1950s, it doesn't seem that these got the ax by the time the agency had changed its mission.

The block housing shared space with industrial/ commercial space. Either it came about pre-zoning or the city really wasn't interested in applying zoning rules here. There was the dairy and an auto repair shop, and several warehouse garage type buildings. I do not know off the top of my head when all this was swept away to make way for the Coop. But the Coop houses more people in better conditions than the alley did. Look back at the photograph of the woman at the door, it is possible that the housing was about 50 years old and it was getting into poor shape with the shutters . Of course there were worse looking alleys and the problem wasn't that they were in poor shape, the problem was they were hidden from street view. Today the problem would be getting 911 dispatchers to find it on their systems, getting fire/EMS into the alley, or calling a cab.


Today we love alley dwellings, it where cool new eateries or shops open up. If by chance it is a residence, it is a singleton or a childless couple who have managed to 'do something' wonderful with the property, turning it into a hidden jewel. They are not occupied by families of poor Carolina laborers who rent from a landlord not particularly interested in keeping up his/her property. The situation with the poor family would have been around longer than the cool people. Long enough that the property would have gone down so poorly that it could have been unsavagable by the time the cool people showed up. In the meantime, Shaw residents needed better housing. Besides there were plenty of poorly maintained houses facing streets.

These are just the alley dwellings. The block, remember was more than that, garages and warehouses. They are not there no more. The dairy, with its milk trucks, which had a bad habit of hitting people, is gone. People changed how they got their milk and butter, the world changed. Cities change. Change is not all bad.


History of Basketball in DC

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I was happy to spot neighbor Dr. Brett Abrams mentioned in today's Washington Post. It is for his newish book The Bullets, the Wizards and Washington D.C. Basketball.  Also I must mention, because it bugs me, there is a typo in John Kelly's article. I looked up 'fug' in the dictionary and couldn't find it. But that's okay, I make typos all the time, and also Truxton Circle gets a mention.

This is his second sports book, the first was Capital Sporting Grounds, which is about ballfields and stadiums and sports in general in the early, early 20th century, in the District. Looking at B's blog Bohemian Yankee, Capital Sporting Grounds is available with free shipping. His other book, which has absolutely nothing to do with DC or sports, Hollywood Bohemians, also has free shipping. The new book is available on Amazon and I think you'd only get free shipping if you are an Amazon Prime person. I noticed that Amazon says there are only three books left in stock, but there are several available used. That's confusing as this book as only been out for several months how can there be so many used ones? Anyway, you can also get it on your Kindle.

Wednesday Misc

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7th and Indiana cross walk
This intersection in Penn Quarter is dangerous. When the pedestrian walk sign is on for people to cross the light at 7th and Indiana might be red, but the cars in the box don't see it, they see the light at 7th and Pennsylvania. I watched a guy in a BMW/Lexus type car yelling at a woman with a stroller for being in the way. She still had 5 seconds.

BACA reminds us that there will be a marathon coming by our neck of the woods this Saturday and North Capitol will be closed.

The Bloomingdale Blog mentions that the Red Hen is hiring. This is a sign of things moving closer to making it a date night place.

Wouldn't it be cool?- I was listening to an audiobook, Makers: The New Industrial Revolution by Chris Anderson  and the topic were sites like Kickstarter. Anyway I was thinking wouldn't it be cool if there was a DC based site for people who wanted to invest in old houses that still had historic elements and get them rehabbed so those elements are kept and sold? Instead a few people dedicated to restoring old homes, hundreds.

5th Street One Way South?- It seems DDOT is thinking about making this one way street going north to go the opposite direction, south.

Also from the Shaw Yahoo Group- Chatman D'Vine Bakery is closed.

I know neighborhoods are confusing.
With the shooting that occurred in front of Taylor House, it was first mentioned that the shooting was in Truxton Circle (original wording on BACA blog). Thanks for using the name, but no.  The article seemed to have changed to say it was in NoMa. Nope. Look at the NoMa borders, as defined by the NoMa BID. It doesn't cross North Capitol Street NW until I Street NW. The shooting was up near M. Now I thought that maybe it would be part of Mount Vernon Triangle, as I was under the impression that its borders went pretty far east. Nope, doesn't look like it, but I get this feeling that it does include it.
Taylor House, Sursum Corda, all that over there between New Jersey, New York, and North Capitol NW is in some odd NoMansLand, let's call it NoMaLa, like NoMa but with no BID and the development is slow. Richard Layman suggests, SoNY, but says it is part of Northwest One. That still on? I know they have a snazzy library of that name, but the only thing going on over there appears to be the new Wally World.
Also I'd hardly say it's gentrifying. It's getting redeveloped, urban renewed, HOPE (V/VI)'ed, the SW treatment at a snail's pace. It's missing the fun urban pioneer, hipster, yuppie, crazed realtor flava crystals that make gentrification so friggin special.
Lastly, I'm still not sure what the Fur nightclub had anything to do with anything. Did Tommy Wells get Grahamzillaed? Shut down the club for the right reasons, noise, trash, ABBA violations, noise, did I say noise? But not for a shooting that occurred a good block away across from a major street.

1530 3rd St NW- After the Fire

1530 and other 1500blk of 3rd St NW

To be crossposted at Vacant Properties blog.

My own memory of 1530 3rd St NW is that there was a house fire, and the story I had heard was that the woman who lived there was out for Bible Study and came home to find it ablaze. I also heard she was a hoarder, which may or may not have been true but that was the story I heard at that time. The fire was on April 9, 2008 according to DCFire. They have pictures of the fire, where you can see the top floor aflame. DC Fire also says that there was a report of people being trapped, they don't say if that report was confirmed, just that there were no injuries.

I also thought a bank took control of the property. But like another property I know of, where the bank has taken physical control but hasn't bothered to tell the city, this remains in the old owner's name. It is in the name of John K. Jones, a name common enough I'm not going to bother trying to hunt down, and the owner's mailing address is 1530 3rd St NW. Not only vacant but abandoned. However, somebody has been paying the taxes. There were big tens of thousands sized tax bills for 2009, 2011 and 2012. The Tax Assessment database shows information about the taxes and also that in 2012 there was a water and sewer lein placed on the property. This appears to be an off year where the house get's charged at the normal non-blighted rate. DCRA's PIVS system doesn't show any permits for the house since the fire. There have been 2 BCIB inspections, one being last year, and is on the Vacant and Blighted list.

It has been about 5 years since the fire, this property needs to be sold so a developer could put it to good use. There is a lot of square footage in the building and it is very tall, the shell should be worth a lot. 

310 P St NW- Vacant and Condemned

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310 P St NW
Crossposted with the Vacant Properties Blog

I am confused as to why this is not charged at the vacant or blighted rate for 2013. This property, owned by Allision Bennett of Largo, MD since 2006, has been a vacant shell for many, many, many years. According to the Tax office, it was charged at the blighted rate for the past three years, add to the other years the total owed to the city is $187,499.31. The city hasn't collected anything from the owner since 2009. Maybe the City has decided they are not going to see the money, so what's the point?

Looking at DCRA'a PIVS system there is something about it being Market. Does that mean it is up for sale, somewhere, maybe in an alternative universe? Or maybe it is explaining how the owner came to 310 P St NW.There hasn't been a permit issued since 2006, and that was to demolish the interior, which yes, there is no interior. If you look at the photo you can see right through to the alley. The last time the City looked in on this was in July, by what I can gather is the Board for Condemnation of Insanitary Buildings. Yep, still vacant, still a shell.

Race, class and poop

Scoop Your Poop
I'm going to say this directly and plainly.
White people with dogs, pick up your dogs poop. When you walk out with your dog be prepared to pick up poop.
Here is what just happened, I was chatting with a neighbor outside her house because today is such a beautiful day, it just screams go bike riding. Anyway we're chatting and we see this guy with his little white dog walk by. Dog sniffs the treebox fencing, but moves on, then about a few minutes later, dog and man pass by again in the opposite direction. Then a minute later we hear a woman saying "Excuse me" over and over again. I can't tell if is a woman getting out of her car or who, but later I see it is one of the residents whose family has been living on the block since the mid 20th century. She then expresses loudly that she is going to follow whomever's attention she failed to get. It becomes clear that the man, a white male in his late 20s early 30s, let his dog poop in her yard and failed to pick it up. She also expressed to her visitor that despite dog guy's protestations, he was never going to come back and pick it up. He did come back (after she followed him near the end of the block) with some newspapers and I guess picked up his dog's feces from the woman's yard.
While both parties were heading back she grumbled about "them" taking over and doing whatever. To make it clear, "them" are young white yuppy/hipster types and though this group may not be aware, letting your dog poop in someone's yard, even if it is tiny postage stamp yard, is an insult. Failing to pick it up, is even worse. Because the offended party was black and the responsible offender white, this has racial tones. "Whatever" is whatever cultural clashes may arise from misunderstandings to insults and damage. While I'm at it, irresponsible dog owners make it harder for responsible pet owners and their allies to get the city to make the District and it's various neighborhoods a great place for them and their pets.
I mentioned class, yes, have enough class to pick  up your dogs poop, and stay out of people's yards. Economically, I don't think the parties were too far apart.
There are plenty or responsible dog owners, of all races, who know that when they go for a walk, they should have bags on them (they also know not to leave their dog in front of the Whole Foods). But for white owners, if you slip, there may be racial issues that you'll confront with when caught.
Lastly, I don't know who has been letting their dog poop and not picking up on the green strip along R St NW between NJ and 5th. Black, white or any, you're a bad dog owner and a horrible person.

Jazzy Date Night @ Big Bear

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Big Bear Cafe
1700 1st St. NW
Washington, DC 20001
Bus- None, walked.
Cost (with tip) = $81

It began with the Bloomingdale Blog's post announcing jazz at Big Bear, which I passed to the Help, as he was hoping to see if there was going to be a pianist at Shaw Tavern. We picked Big Bear trumpet over Shaw Tavern pianist, because we couldn't find anything on Shaw tarvern's website or facebook page confirming the next day's entertainment. It also helped that the jazz started at 8pm.

We've been to Big Bear several times for various things, but that night we were comparing the setting to Blues Alley. If you've ever been to Blues Alley in Georgetown, it is a dark, cramped space and you are close enough to the musicians to read their music. Big Bear, not as dark, but the tables were very close together, thus the comparisions to Blues Alley.

I had to small dishes and the Help had an app and an entree. I ate a little bit off of his plate, and we had dessert. I had a white bean dip, which was a tiny bit spicy, followed with a seafood quesadilla, which was also a bit spicy. I went through a lot of water, and I nursed a hot mulled cider. The Help had root veggie side which was okay, but there was a reason I didn't order it. He also had ravioli, it was ok too. The table next to us had the scallops and that smelled great, and the noddle dish they ordered looked better than what we had.

We stuck around for the first set of the music. We're getting old. We wanted to go to bed. Sleep is such a wonderful luxury, particularly on a school nite.

Thursday Misc

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ANC5E-05 SMD Meeting- Covering the area that is predominately the Hanover part of the TC and whatever is south of Q St. Anyway a meeting on March 12th at the New York Ave Playground.

Dog Treats- You know Sandra of Painted Hand Farm, who sells at the Bloomingdale Farmer's Market? She's selling those liver treats on-line. So if you can't wait till the market opens up again, you can get your pet's treat fix.

Buyer Club- Also Sandra has a buyer's club and according to her email will be at 1st and R March 24th. The March list has bunny as one of the meats you can order, but orders must be made in advance.

War on Terror, War on Drugs

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I don't like drug dealers. More specifically, I don't like what drug dealers do, which is selling poison to people. Shaw, has had, and is still struggling with drug dealers. They are not as bad in the areas that I frequent anymore. Winter might have something to do with that.

Yesterday evening, the Help and I checked out Mr. Paul Rand's ongoing speechifing about drones possibly being used to kill Americans in America without due process. How realistic is it? I don't know, but I do know that rules to combat terrorists have been used in America's War on Drugs. Will local law enforcement be able to use drones against the friendly neighborhood drug dealer? Technology has been used, GPS, shotspotter, and wire tapping. And here still the rule of law applies, despite whatever proof the government has, the suspected drug dealer still gets his/her day in court. Eventhough drug dealers are domestic terrorists, making residents live in fear, they still should get due process.

Now if we could just get the dealers from the corner or alley into the courtroom. Oh, and not have the judge just let them go, or slap them on the wrist with really short jail time, that would be good too.

Snow Day

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Ah a day many a federal worker and school kid looks forward to, the morning when the radio says schools, universities and governments are closed. Despite that the garbage did get picked up. I got a few hours of extra sleep, however looking outside, I don't know if it merited a full shut down. I see the predictions of lots of snow, and I'm glad governments are taking it seriously, but....
I'm gonna take another nap. Maybe when I wake up the streets will be covered in snow or a big sheet of black ice.

Sunset Liquors wants to open on Sundays

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Last night BACA voted to approve extending Sunset Liquors hours on Friday and Saturday by an hour. It was also discussed that the owner would also like to open on Sunday however for several reasons this was set aside. There was a question of if there was enough public notice for the hours being extended, but since BACA is a party in the voluntary agreement it was BACA's right to say yes or no as a named organization.
Apparently in the last 6 months Sunset Liquors had changed and thus has been granted extended hours. I honestly don't think 6 months is enough time to justify extending the prize of Sunday hours, particularly when the voluntary agreement specifically said that they would not open on Sunday. This was put in long before ABRA even considered allowing DC liquor stores Sunday hours. Unfortunately, there is a long history of a problem with the store, and it's proximity to the park made efforts to make it a place for neighbors over winos difficult.  It is good that there have been recent changes, but has the store proven itself enough to be a positive force deserving of such a prize?

Can't talk now, I'm on the bus

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That is usually what I say if my mom or the Help happens to call while I'm on the bus heading home. If I happen to hear the phone ring. I may follow that with asking them to call me in 20 minutes. This is to avoid having my phone out and to avoid blurting out any information that really isn't for my fellow riders' ears.

To avoid the performance art/ living soap opera I and several others on the 79 listened to on the way downtown. The performer, I'll call Black Guy with Glasses and a bike (no helmet), he was talking to Dude/Man, who was silent, about Sean/Shaun and the Bitch (I'll call B* for short) and possible other African American persons he called N*s and the MotherFer (not even going to type out the words). Apparently this weekend Guy with Glasses was hanging out on B*'s couch and she was going off about how she wanted her money from him. Little did she know Guy with Glasses had $500 in his pocket (making me wonder how much did he have on him now) and he would have given it to her then and there if it weren't for her carrying on. It seems she was also in the next room that weekend singing about how she wanted her damned money. Sean/Shaun was also there and the B* wanted to give money to him but first she needed it from Guy with Glasses. She felt Guy with Glasses owed her because he had been staying over at her place, however his actual place of residence wasn't clear, and this could have been a Friends with Benefits situation with housing that fizzled, 'cause he "wasn't f*ing with her no mo'."

Seriously, I didn't need to hear that. In the pre-cell phone world there used to be these silly sexist jokes about how women were always on the phone. The cell phone has brought forth equality where both sexes gibber jabber on and on and on. When I was on the London Tube, I'd hear people's mobile devices (aka cell phones) go off but I could not hear their conversations. Londoners, at the time of my visit, had this ability to not broadcast their private lives on public transit. I have hear people admit to having firearms (due to age I'd bet illeagally), being home alone by themselves, an other things that probably should be shouted to the rest of the bus or train car.

Friday Misc.

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Free Taxes & Zuma- The BACA Blog has an announcement that someone is going to do your taxes for free it you'd like. On the same page, something about Zumba. Zumba. It's everywhere.

Sad Tale- Of a dog in Bloomingdale, in this Washingtonian story about animal abuse and the system's hands being tied.[HT: Bloomingdale blog]

Gross- Whoever is not picking up after their dog along R St between New Jersey and 5th you are making this walkway disgusting. Stop it.

Michelle Rhee- She has a book out called Radical. I spent all of yesterday listening to the audiobook (I LOVE audiobooks) and found it informative and interesting. It also made me really appreciate Fenty, who as far as I can tell shook DC politics off his sandals and moved on. Anyway, I highly recommend the book, even if it is to get her side of the story.