The new people

My block is special.
About a couple of weeks ago we got two new households on the block. One was a single guy who bought a house and the other was a couple who where friends of another couple who’ve been on the block as long as I have. There has been a lot of back and forth between J&L and their friends as they help them get settled in. We’ve left the new guy alone for a week.
Then this wonderful weekend with the weather we’ve been having, so many of us were out in the front yard. So when the new guy poked his head out to tackle the overgrowth in the front yard we got him. I polled him about paint colors, as I’m repainting my house and asking neighbors’ their opinions.* While we were chatting I called over another neighbor who introduced herself and pointed out her husband. Then we noticed another J who was in the middle of running back and forth from the new couple’s house and called him over. Then J after some small talk took the new guy over to the new couple’s house.
In time we’ll see how the new people fit in. I think ours is a relatively friendly street. When the weather is good we hang out in our yards, chat over the fence, give each other unsolicited advice/opinions/warnings, lend/trade/give stuff (tomatoes, tools, etc), and at the very least, we wave hi.

*If you know where I live you’re welcomed to give input on the two finalist (there were more) colors. Though I like the lighter color, neighbors have pointed out that it will probably fade. I’ve been told the darker color is bold, and the darker color is winning the popularity contest. I’ll settle on one color this weekend.

Petitions, neighbors, and the long view

I’m supposed to be collecting signatures to try to open the Dunbar High School track to residents. Our Dear Mayor Fenty gets to run on the track in the mornings, it would be nice if residents had the option to do so as well. In a brief shot of energy, as I’m still recovering from a cold, I grabbed the petition forms and hit the block. The first group of people were some neighbors who several months ago had collected signatures for speed humps for our block. It’s been a while since anyone has heard anything about the progress of the humps. So that tempers/ clouds my perception of how useful the Dunbar petition will be. While collecting I was able to reconnect with neighbors I haven’t seen for a while because in Winter we all hide out, so this was an opportunity to catch up.
So far everyone is still employed! Woot!
However, with the few warm days we’ve had we’ve noticed our friendly neighborhood drug dealers (who I thought had left) back scoping out the corners. Looking at it from with a long view, things have gotten better. But not so much better that the block is drug free. It depresses me that there is still something about neighborhood that makes it an environment that the dealers think they can still profit around here.
As a neighborhood we’ve chipped away at the things that would make it too easy for the dealers. We’ve gotten residential parking for many of the blocks, which is annoying when you have long term guests and short term roommates. We call the cops. We clean up and eliminated most of the opportunities for dumping, as huge piles of trash make for good drug stashes. We work with the city’s elected officials and its agencies. We voted and contributed to campaigns. We turned on our front porch lights to brighten the block and reported street lights that were out so dealers would have less dark to hide in.
Not a credit to the neighbors but a change that makes the neighborhood less welcoming to dealers is there are fewer vacant houses and shells. Despite the slow down in housing, there has been a slight increase in owner occupied housing on my block, with a promise of more owner occupiers to come. More people to fight the good fight, or at least not be part of the problem. Though not so great for affordable housing, the amount of market rate rentals have outnumbered the “Section 8” houses. I hate to say that some of our drug fighting problems can be linked to a few of the “Section 8” houses. There is probably now only one or two houses on the block where the boyz may find safe harbor. It will be a brighter day when that number is 0.
A friend of mine who visits occasionally tell me how the neighborhood gets better and better in little increments. A new paint job here, a cleaned up yard there and fewer dealers on the corner.
Maybe in the near future we’ll have our street humps and access to the Dunbar track, and when the dealers come around to scope out the block they’ll decide it’s no good and move on.

B.’s Stadium Book gets WP write up

My next door neighbor/co-worker B. has his book Capital Sporting Grounds out now and his book got some love from Marc Fisher. I just got the book in my hot little hands today, and I hope to give an honest as I can report of it once done.
I’m a bit more interested in Capital Sporting Grounds than the other book he released last year, because its topic is development history in Washington DC. Also B. gave a pretty interesting presentation sometime back at the Historical Society about stadium development and some of the backroom dealing involved. B. is interested in the story and I look forward to experiencing his storytelling.

Locked out

It started about sometime after eleven-something last night, someone in the alley was calling up to someone. It happens occasionally, and it is the oddest thing where someone is looking for someone who used to live around here. They’ll go around back and yell at the house where they think their friends live. However, that wasn’t the case last night.
There was door banging. This was a few doors down, but I’m reminded of how small and close our houses are on this row when someone is doing some heavy knocking. When I wandered into the kitchen I could actually hear the name of the person being yelled and realized it was one of my neighbors knocking and yelling to his sister to let him back in.
My best guess, from living near them for so many years, is that the brother was more than likely on the back deck and had been out there when his sister locked up (or he locked up and forgot his key) and went to bed. It happens, I’ve locked out and have been locked out by roommates too. This is why I have a few people with keys to my house, to help on those occasions, and there have been several occasions, when I’ve been locked out of my own home.
The yelling and knocking went on for a good while, as he tried both the front and the back of the house. Yes, these houses are just so, and apparently no amount of insulation can block out the noise, so that I could tell, when he was trying the front of the house and the rear of the house. When I decided to get to bed, I poked my head out to ask him if he needed to use the phone. He said he had called but she wasn’t answering.

Halloween in the Hood 2008

Tomorrow is Halloween, and yes, kids do trick or treat in Shaw.
Last year Frozen Tropics had some really good tips for prepping for the day. Also if this is your first Halloween, you may want to check with neighbors to see if there is anyone else giving out candy, ’cause if yours is the lone house, it may decrease the numbers of kids showing up.
Kids have shown up on our block between 5:30 or 6:30 or 7PM and 8PM when some of us stop giving our candy. The sign of when to stop giving out candy is when you’ve get bands of uncostumed teenagers coming to your door for candy. I stop when the cute kid signal fades out with the crappy teen noise. Then I turn off my porch light, turn off the 1st floor lights and retreat to the rear of the house.

Former Halloween Posts
Trick or Treat
Halloween Recap
I Don’t Want to Hear Any Halloween Excuses
Reminder: Halloween
Halloween II: Curse of the Signs
Halloween III: Death & Candy– Warning mouse death described.

Haunting the hood

Despite the fact that the individual in question moved, well his mother moved, a month or so ago, he still haunts the block like he still lives there. The individual is a teenager who hangs out with the crowd of other males wandering the streets. Occasionally, they will hang in one spot.
They used to hang out in the yard of the house where he used to live, but the owner put up a no trespassing sign, well something more detailed than just “NO TRESSPASSING” but with the same gist. This helped when calling the cops because before, the cruiser would slowly drive by, look at them, then speed off. Big whoop. Now the sign is there in the window, they don’t hold court in the yard no more.
Last night they opted to hang in front of B. and IT’s house. I was home playing CIV III when I heard the crowd. I came out because I was concerned. Sometimes B. leaves his bike out on the sidewalk. He locks it, but they were all leaning in the spot where he leaves it. So I came out and decided that my yard needed attention.
I don’t care for confrontation, unless you’re on my fence then I’ll say something, and so I did not speak to the crowd. I just puttered. Visible, noticeable, puttering. If needed, I could have engaged in my impression of loudmouth bubbie lawyer and get on my cell and scream like a crazy person. It is my front yard and I can do whatever the hell I want. Just then some neighbors came walking by, an end to their evening constitutional and we had a chat while the group of young men sauntered away. Seconds later, another neighbor came out and we gave a friendly holler at each other. We stayed out there till the crowd had settled down on the other, deserted end of the block.

Neighbor moved, I think

I want to note it, but I’m not too sure about it. A neighborhood character who I used to call Drama Mamma (then dropped the name when the blog readership when up) moved. I think she moved. There was a U-Haul, and the lights haven’t been on for a few days. The landlord has been trying to sell the house and there is little love between him and DM. She may be gone, however, she forgot to tell some relatives she relocated (if she did relocate) and they’ve been knocking.
Neighborhood characters do make the place interesting. However, sometimes it is a kind of interesting that gets tiresome and occasionally dangerous. We are not out of neighborhood characters on the block, however the adults (kids whole ‘nother package of nuts) weren’t as out there as she and her associates were. So with the exception of buppie lawyers who like to wildly emote with their cell phones and the screaming kids, the block may get quieter.

Neighborhood Character in Post

There is some disagreement between me and my source, but I think I know of the “Derrick” in the article appearing in Sunday’s Post article “After A Few Months in DC, It’s Not Just The Rental Options That Stink.” The author moves in a group house on 1st St NW, and though he says it’s near U Street, the “Derrick” he meets sounds too much like a Truxton Circle “Derrick” who haunts 1st St. This Derrick hits the author up for a beer so he could celebrate his anniversary with his wife. This was the give away, as there is a TC Derrick who is known for hitting people up for beer and acting like a self appointed street mayor. Yet my source thought 1st Street could possibly have several Derricks, besides the TC Derrick, who is actually named Derrick and may ask for a beer.
So Bloomingdale, y’all got any storytelling beer-mooching Derricks up there?
Anyway, one of the things that made my source doubt that the Post’s Derrick and the TC Derrick were one in the same was the rest of the author’s story. Apparently, the author moved in without signing a lease. The guy who was on the lease collected the housemates money but never paid the landlord and they all got evicted. Which sounds like the same thing that happened to Nora Bombay’s brother in Florida, where the housemate collecting the rent ran off with the money and everyone got kicked out. But then again, that was a case of don’t have crackheads for roommates, and especially don’t give them the rent money.
I really don’t understand. Almost all the places I rented, despite having roommates, I paid the landlord or manager directly. The only sort of exception was when I was renting in DC and had occasional roommates who were staying for a few months, where I was collecting the rent.
A word of advice kids, get on the lease and/or at least have management aware that you have the right to stay there. You never know when you’ll get locked out of the apartment/condo and need to convince the doordude that you belong there and he needs to let you in.

Hey Loudmouth Buppie Lawyer Dude

I can’t have my windows up because of you.
Yes, yes, you are very important, doing whatever it is that you do. I’m not sure if you were having a one-sided screaming match on your cell for work or pleasure, but you woke me up. On a rare moment when I thought I could feel free to open my bedroom window, let in the cool night air, and give the AC a break, you ruined it. Normally, I’d call the police. As a promise I made to another neighbor, who had the habit of getting loud with the help of electronics and booze, I said I’d be fair and call the cops on you when you got loud. That way, my 311/911 (I’m confused) noise complaint calls would be equal, regardless of class. Yet, the other night I was so tired, the only thing I could manage to do was close the window, collapse on the bed and sweat.
I feel pity for the people who live next door to you. I’m several doors down and I can hear you. I could hear your custody battle screaming. I could hear your gossipy VIPs in the DC government screaming. Please stop. I wish I could not hear you. I don’t want to hear you. I want to mind my own business, but that’s hard to do when you keep screaming.

New Blog

My next door neighbor B. has a blog. It’s still new so he’s feeling his way around. Jimbo and I have been helping him grasp the concept and purpose of blogging, so when you visit be nice.
The main, and eventual purpose of Bohemian Yankee in the Capital: Salty dog author talks history, sports, queer imagery and urban development is to promote two books that he has coming out, one on GLBT Hollywood and the other on stadium development in the District of Columbia. Of the two I’m more interested in the stadium book, Capital Sporting Grounds as it tells of some of the wheeling and dealing of getting the RFK built, and the location of various other sporting venues in the city.