East of 16th St, East of 11th, an observation

There are certain populations, manners, patterns… things I notice when I pass 16th Street, the great dividing line. I sometimes see the, I don’t know what to call it, feeling or sense that I pick up on when I pass 16th shifting over to 14th St. Well, one Sunday ride from church, I noticed a gesture that I thought would be more 16th-17th St, maybe 14th, but to see it east of 11th, was something. Two gentlemen were walking arm in arm, obviously a couple, and apparently at ease with their surroundings. It’s not the only, I still don’t have a word for it, thing that I sense/feel (gad I’m hating my vocab right now) that has shifted over from Dupont past the magic 16th St barrier.

Prepping for semi-retirement

I figure it’s time to make this noise again, I’m going to place this blog into semi-retirement and focus on something else. I haven’t yet picked a date, I’m thinking September or December 2007.
The other thing is, semi-retirement, I’m not sure what that looks like. I’m not going to give up writing about what happens in my immediate area, the TC, but probably not as often, not as regularly. And since I do like blogging, I’m not going to quit InShaw.
The thing is I want to write more about history and neighborhood history. Plain old history is a professional and personal interest. The “Fun with Proquest” posts, digging into the Truxton Circle name, some other work I’ve been doing, and the need to get back to the neighborhood census project are pulling me in a different direction. There are other things that a change would address too, but I don’t want to get into them right now.

Passive aggressive?

Sometimes direct confrontation is not the answer. In certain situations direct confrontation may possibly make the situation worse. That’s just my opinion and the conclusion I came to yesterday regarding teenagers hanging out.
It’s Summer so the kids on the block and their friends are all hanging out, running up and down the sidewalk like chickens with their heads cut off. These aren’t wide houses so bands of kids can randomly wind up in front of your house screaming at each other, loudly gossiping, hitting, flirting, boasting, and carrying on. I want them to move on. Directly, asking a band of kids, particularly when they are bragging about how tough they are, to move, maybe not a good idea. So instead I sat on my stoop and read the paper. If I were really annoyed, and wanted them gone quicker, I’d water the treebox or weed the treebox (which would involve fistfulls of dirt flying all over).
Kids will be kids and I’m not exactly at the ‘children should be seen and not heard’ state of mind, yet, but I’ll be glad when school starts up.

Quick thought on housing and gentrification

There is someone moving into the neighborhood today, who in 5-10 years will complain that gentrification moved them out. This thought came to me after a quick conversation with an older woman (maybe not quite senior citizen) who was moving into a rental house. A house that has been ‘affordable’ since I’ve been in the neighborhood. And it has had a fair amount of turnover (but that’s because the landlady is horrible) so it remains a housing option.
There is little purity in the gentrification that happens in this neighborhood. All the poor people do not move out at the same time to be replaced by people with more money. Not all the landowners sell when the market is hot, some keep holding on, maybe through greed or apathy, and then the market cools. There is loss, there are fewer housing options for lower income groups, however there isn’t a 100% loss of affordable housing from the market.
I write this from what I’ve observed on my block. At least three houses (there might be more) in the six years I’ve been noticing appear to fall in the ‘affordable’ category and they though the crazy RE market and it’s current cooling have had some turnover with tenants and yet have had the same kind of tenant.

What is this?

Mystery fruit
Originally uploaded by In Shaw

So before the renovation, I threw seeds in things and on the ground. So the front yard is whatever survived construction workers throwing stuff on top, stepping on, etc. The backyard is whatever was there before and this thing.
Look at the picture. What the hey is this thing? It is in a pot so there is a 70% chance I put it there. At first I thought it was a cucumber because the plant is kinda small and it is a clingy plant. Well when the fruit got bigger than a golf ball I knew, not a cucumber. Cuke has little thorny bits, this has soft hairs.
So I had Jimbo come over and used his plant superpowers to determine what it was. First guess was watermelon. But the leaves were wrong for watermelon. Second answer, don’t know. Then somehow Jim put on his landscape architecture hat and made all sorts of suggestions of turning into some garden with a water feature.
So I’m taking this to the people. Any guesses of what this is?

DC taxes hurt small businesses

The problem is the chains will not make the neighborhood a neighborhood, it will just make it another part of generica. Sitting with Richard Layman at a window table at the Big Bear Cafe we very briefly mentioned how the city actually hurts small business. Taxes is one method of putting on the hurt as reported in today’s Post article “Feeling the Pinch of D.C.’s Prosperity.
And the city does give lip service about supporting the arts. Having Warehouse consider closing down, and stressing other live action theaters, art galleries (particularly the ones that don’t feature art that goes well with the living room couch), and other artsy venues with high taxes is quite unsupportive.
Come on there must be a couple of intelligent people on the council who could think of a way to properly tax businesses, small businesses, the businesses who take a chance on transitional neighborhoods like mine, without discouraging them and pushing them out. Why would a 10% cap be bad? If that’s intolerable how’s about a 20% cap? Well Jack (Evans, who supports a 10% cap, though no one else on the Council seems to) I support you.

North Capitol, Catania Bakery

For news about the TC it seems I have to keep up with the Eckington listserv. How wacky is that? Anyway, as some of you know Saturday Catania Bakery was robbed, as sadly one of the many summer crimes that has occured in the area in the past month or so (I’ll be so happy when school starts up). Discussion on the listserv about the robbery brought up this from ANC leader Kris Hammond:

There is some good news. Nicole the owner is currently renovating one of the buildings. Pat Mitchell, myself, Jessica (Nicole’s granddaughter), and Paul of Warehouse on 9th Street recently viewed the property for artist studio potential. We all want the buildings filled and it has been very slow, but I recently learned that there have been some personal extenuating circumstances that are part of the reason. Hopefully it will all change soon. Nicole/Catania just recently successfully rented out office space on the second floor of another building.


Well good thing that office got leased out.

City of Magnificent Intentions

I can see why children hate history. I’m returning the textbook on the history of the District of Columbia to my library since it is ILL (inter library loan) and it is just depressing. Really, I can see why school children can hate history. I love history. It is like learning about another country, where you can’t get a visa.
The textbook, City of Magnificent Intentions: A History of Washington, District of Columbia is useful in that it is crammed, crammed I say, with dates and facts. What I learned from what little I read and skimmed through has been fascinating. However, I read very little because I could not read this like I have been able to do with other books. Reading, I felt like tons and tons of facts were being shoved at me and the story, the narrative was secondary. It was like reading the encyclopedia…. for those of you who remember encyclopedias when they were in book form.
I understand why the book was written the way it was written. Gotta shove those dates and facts at the kids. You can test for that. But it does not make for leisure reading and I can see how a reader can get resentful.
It is most enjoyable when you flip through it. The photographs of people and locations around the District are interesting and the maps showing growth in the region has been helpful. Reading subsections of chapters is do-able, and pausing to think about what was written, and applying it to the present, allows for ah-ha moments. For example there is a section on neighborhood history and white flight to the suburbs and an organization “Neighbors, Inc”. A caption in the chapter reads:

By fostering communication and cooperation, Neighbors, Inc. helped halt “white flight” in the part of Northwest roughly east of 16th Street and north of Kennedy Street.

It ends on a sad note as it was published in 1997. It leaves with a Control Board overseeing the District government, Marion ‘the bitch set me up’ Barry was re-elected, and downtown DC decaying. Sitting here 10 years in the book’s future with no control board, a young bald mayor named Adrian and a vibrant downtown, I feel good.

Truxton Circle RE location

Between painting (if you haven’t seen me, it’s because I’ve been painting) I stopped to read the Sunday Post. Curious I wanted to see what houses were advertised for sale in the area, and how far Logan East is these days. Well to my surprise I spied a house advertized as “Truxton Circle/ Shaw /Eckington”. Two out of three isn’t bad. But it isn’t in Eckington. Eckington is the other side of Florida Avenue. This house is at 26 Hanover Pl. NW. Nope, Eckington several blocks over. And you can be in Shaw & Truxton Circle at the same time.