What’s it take to get a few more police patrols?

I think we now know. NBC4 / MSNBC are reporting that a school bus had shots fired on it by a pellet gun. No one appears to be hurt or injured which, thank god, is the good news in all this.

But… while not one to make light the severity of this, I’m going to. It’s a pellet gun. There are actual gunshots fired in the area along the North Capitol corridor every once in a while. Any coverage of those? Nada.

Anyone want to take a bet that Vincent Orange will be on the news tonight? $5 says he’ll be interviewed at the scene. Any takers?

Just do it

Nothing like being woken up at 5:00 AM-ish to two men screaming at each other at the tops of their lungs. It’s even better is when it carries on for the better part of 45 minutes while they circle the block, increasing in volume and intensity.

“I’m gonna f’ing kill you [explicative, explicative]”.

Ok, I admit that at first I was worried there was a problem that would lead to someone being hurt. By the end of it, I’m wishing I had a gun to hand them so they could just get it over with. Seriously, it went through my mind about 50 times.

And what’s with the laps of the block while screaming at each other, kicking bottles and making a racket? The worst part was that it apparently was an argument over $5 that one of them owed the other.

The incident reminded me of a friend’s argument that dueling should be brought back to help resolve some of these crackhead type conflicts. Un-PC, yes. Effective? Maybe.

Cultural Anthropology?

After getting tired of trash strewn through my front yard and street, I’ve come up with diversions to make picking it up more interesting. For instance, I try to identify where it comes from. The napkins covered in ketchup are usually a clear match for one the local carryouts. That’s easy. Chicken bones are the same. Brown bags? Local liquor store. Broken crack pipe? Empy dime bags? That’s easy to figure out too.

What I find more fun is trying to figure out where the trash further away from the sources comes from. So the brown bags that are a couple of blocks away from the closest liquor store… which store did they come from? Same game with the carryout trash, etc.

Occasionally, I find gems. Like the other day I found a shredded personal ad for “Bustylicious11”. I couldn’t read all of it, unfortunately, but I do know that if you’re reading this, Bustylicious11, that there is someone that is/was interested enough in you to print out your personal ad before leaving it on the streets of Shaw.

I guess the whole reason for doing this is to make cleaning up more interesting and less tiresome. I really have enjoyed it more when I try to match the trash with locations and people around the neighborhood. I guess these are the little games we play to make life more interesting?


The Post, jumping on the notariety of Freakonomics, has a quick article about the “ugly” face of crime that highlights on how unattractive people tend to, more frequently, be criminals.

What does that mean for Shaw? I shudder to think. I can loosely accept the economists’ conclusions though… I’ve yet to see a prom queen pee in my street.

So next time you see a crime in Shaw just tell yourself, “It’s ok, they’re not a beautiful person. Like me.”

Northwest One

The Post has an article about the pending plans for Northwest One, aka Sursum Corda.

For residents of Eckington, this article may be particularly interesting as they can compare the plans for Northwest One with the housing proposed by St Martin’s and Catholic Community Services.

I thought the article was interesting because it lays out a lot of the services that they are planning on providing to residents in Northwest One. On paper it all sounds great. Only thing that concerns me is that Sursum Corda also sounded great on paper when it was proposed forty-odd years ago. I hope we’ve figured things out better now.

Regardless, it’s impressive to see that there’s a $558 million price tag on this effort. That’s an incredible amount of money and, hopefully, it signals to future residents– both low and high-income– that there’s substantial commitment to the project to make it work. The article mentions breaking ground this year if the DC Council approves the plans so we’ll see what this means for the area shortly.

Public/Private Partnerships

There’s an article in the Post about giving private developers access to develop public land and spaces in return for sorely needed infrastructure. What’s particularly relevant about the piece is that two of the named sites are in Central/Eastern Shaw: the Watha T Daniel library and Shaw Junior High School.

Something needs to be done about Watha T Daniel. Construction was going to begin on it this year I think, but that was scuttled and we’re back to the drawing board with more plans being drawn up. That empty library looks like, to borrow someone else’s description, a refugee camp sometimes with so many camping out outside the place. Hardly the image the neighborhood wants to present to Metro passengers exiting there.

After reading the article, I think I, personally, can support idea of public/private partnerships to rebuild schools and libraries. Consider this:

With the costs of fixing schools and libraries estimated at close to $2 billion, said D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp, “I don’t believe we can tax our way out.”

Honestly, I don’t want to pay any more taxes than DC residents already do. We shoulder a pretty high tax burden because of all of the land that isn’t taxable by the DC government. Let’s create a bigger tax base and spread the burden across it.

Simi Batra, a neighborhood association president, says:

“You don’t sell your public spaces to finance school construction; that’s not how it’s done,” Batra said. “Because what happens the next time a renovation needs to be done? In a hundred years, there will be nothing left to sell.”

Actually, that’s wrong. Theoretically a larger tax base (from new residents and businesses) and a more responsible government will be able to annually fund the public buildings so that they never get back to this horrid state.

I guess I can live with some responsibly planned higher density if we get better schools and libraries.

It’s coming…

I received an e-mail yesterday about an exciting development coming to the area… a sit down restaurant. Mike Benson & company apparently won the bidding of the Firehouse on North Cap and will be proceeding with their plans. Very exciting and anxiously waited for. Here’s a snip about the proposed project from the Mayor’s press release:

Vacant for nearly a decade, Old Engine Company 12 will transform into a full-service, sit-down restaurant named “EC-12” with a second-floor cultural and performing arts space programmed by XM Satellite Radio, a marketing partner on the team, who will broadcast live music events from the location. The lounge will also provide community meeting and exhibition space. EC-12 will include a sidewalk café and a renovated roof top deck to accommodate an outdoor seating area.

So we’re getting a restaurant and an entertainment venue. Perfect. If it’s executed anywhere near as well as Café Saint-Ex or Bar Pilar, we’ve got a new hangout in the area. What would be even better is if this becomes an anchor for some more restaurants, bars and retail on North Cap around Florida Ave.

Public restrooms

The biggest gripe I have with the Eastern Shaw or Truxton Circle area is the perceived sense of lawlessness by some of the people that pass through the borders. I’m not talking about the dealing, shooting, etc. It’s the little things that I just can’t get my head around. The other morning on the way to work, I looked down the alley and saw a nicely dressed man walk a little ways towards a trash can, look at me and then proceed to do his business while I stood and stared. He looked at me and I made a point at stopping to stare at him. Didn’t phase him. He zipped up and walked off.

I’ve seen plenty of crackheads leave “presents” for the residents. But it kills me when I see someone who should know and act better think that they can just void their waste wherever they choose. This man was a customer at one of the take-outs and was not your stereotypical looking crackhead. He may have been a crackhead, but my crackhead-radar tells me he was not.

I value diversity. But is having to tolerate people using streets like a restroom a consequence of a diverse neighborhood? I haven’t decided on that yet. Maybe a signal a neighborhood has turned is when the streets are no longer frequently used as restrooms. (Yes, I know that bar hoppers in Adams Morgan and Georgetown do this at night.)

What ever happened to shame? Is that something that you have to teach people?

Gaining momentum?

There’s a great article in The Examiner about development along North Capitol Street. The article talks about how the NoMa area (edit: apparently the writer is mistaken about boundaries of “NoMa”) has been blighted for so long but now it appears to have reached a tipping point. A great observation:

“This neighborhood has a new fabric,” said Patterson [VP of Corp Affairs for XM Radio]. “People have stayed here and the new people coming in – you’re seeing a new sense that things are changing. People are picking up trash. There are community watch groups. There is an influx of students at McKinley Tech. These are great things when you can have new schools, new residents and new businesses coming together.”

Though XM has been in the area many times longer than me, I do think it’s getting easier to see what he’s talking about. The changes over the next few years on North Capitol Street are going to be amazing to see.

Finally, I thought this was interesting. Maybe it’s interesting because it’s what I want to hear… so I’m biased, but interesting nonetheless:

“The economic engine in the capital for the past 30 years has been the development of office space, but beginning in 2001, there was a resurgence in the residential markets. Developers now say the city is primed for rebirth in urban retail.”

Hopefully we see this on North Capitol Street shortly, regardless of whether or not it’s properly referred to as “NoMa”.

I’m protective of the ‘hood

So this morning I was enjoying a cup of coffee and trying to figure out what I’d be up to for the day when I heard a loud knocking at the door. So I go downstairs, open the door and two women are standing outside. At least it’s not Contractor Guy again.

There’s a pause and one says, “Sir, how are you?” Me: “Fine, what can I help you with?” There’s a pause and one says, “We’re curious if you know what causes the problems around here?”

I think I know where this is going, but it’s a little annoying to have someone come to your door and try talk about your neighborhood’s problems when you’re having a quiet weekend morning to yourself. And I really don’t know where they live and I probably should have asked. If they actually live in the area I might have taken their question differently.

So I say, “What problems here?” and then get a really confused look from both of them. I pause and lean out the door, look up and down the street and then look back at them.

One, with an expansive Vanna White-esque gesture, signals my street is quite problematic and states, “The problems here.”

I look back at them, like I just don’t understand: “What problems?”

They explained that there is crime, violence, drugs, etc. and again rhetorically asked if I knew why they are problems. I’d have been a jerk if I brought up the DC government’s failings over the past several decades so I just say, “Yes, I know.” They offered me some scripture and left. No biggie.

I’ve got no problems with religion but I do get annoyed when people sell it door to door. If you insult my ‘hood and that just makes it worse… even if we do deserve the criticism. My ‘hood is like family. No matter how dysfunctional or busted, it’s only fair game for us to insult. Like family.