Stuck in the year 2001

After gettin’ my hair did ’round U Street I ventured up by bike looking for the new Harris Teeter near 17th Street. I took the long, I’m lost, roundabout route veering over to 19th Street, and then asking for directions. After getting a few things I headed back home heading to 16th St, I saw the Meridian Park and remembered back to 2001.
It has been 7 years since I’ve been at that exact corner on a bike. Hit with this sudden flashback, I turned my head looking back at the street I just biked up and said, wasn’t there an open drug market there? In 2001, Jose, a guy from a dance class I was taking was having a house warming party somewhere in Adams Morgan/Columbia Heights. I was living at 12th & Rhode Island, so I figured I just bike up to the party. When I turned off from 16th St NW, heading west on either Crescent or Belmont (can’t exactly remember) I biked straight into the biggest open air drug market I had ever seen. Many people were milling about, and some were sort of looking at me like I might be selling.
Until I got groceries at Harris Teeter, that memory was part of my mental map of that part of town. It’s sort of like outdated satellite imagery, you know it’s out of date, but it’s all you got.
There are so many other parts of the city where it has been a good forever and a half since I’ve been there, like the DC part of Takoma Park and Deanwood. Then again there are parts of the city where I haven’t to at all.

Fireworks have now started

They may have started before this weekend but it was this weekend when I started to hear them go off. With a lack of firework stands so far (have you seen any?) and other factors I gather this year won’t be as noisy as the previous ones. The proof will be in the 4th of July pudding. The best way to describe 4th of July night ’round here is ‘crazy’. Smoke and noise and debris everywhere almost on every corner, kind of crazy.
Will there be on the off chance a quieter 4th? I’m not ready to bet on it, but if it is a bit more sedate with fewer neighborhood D.I.Y. shows competing with the big show on the Mall, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Soil Test Results

From the Soil and Plant Tissue Testing Lab at the University Of Massachusetts:
Nutrient Levels: PPM (parts per million/ parts per milligram per kilogram)
Phosphorus (P) 105
Potassium (K) 282
Calcium (Ca) 4263
Magnesium (Mg) 303

Extracted Lead (PB) 34 PPM Estimated Total Lead is 443

According to UMASS I have high levels of nutrients and really should lay off the compost….. Anyone need compost? Trade you for nutrient low peat moss. The pH levels are outta wack, apparently they are too high.
Despite all your fears and concerns my front yard, my urban front yard has low levels of lead. It has less than 43 ppm and less than 500 ppm estimated total lead. High would be greater than 480 ppm and and estimated total lead ppm of 3000+, according to the accompanying materials the soil lab supplied. Also according to the materials lead is naturally present in soil in the range of 15-40 ppm. My soil falls within the natural range.

Fun with ProQuest and the Historical Washington Post

Rob Goodspeed covered this use of the word “gentrification” and its use in the Post in his blog here. So I cannot even improve upon his work. However I can make some observations and provide a bibliography.
For the years 1970-1979, a few:

“Londoners vs. Developers” by Jerry Edgerton. Mar 25, 1973. p. C2
“Will ‘Saved’ Cities Mean Suburban Slums?; Mr. Peirce writes a syndicated column, on the problems of cities and states” by Neal R. Peirce. Jul 30, 1977. p. A15
“Gentrification of London; Working-Class Residents Vie With ‘Colonizers’ For Housing Working Class Vying For ‘Gentrified’ Homes” by Clay Harris, special to The Washington Post. Nov 5, 1977. E1
“Harlem Woos Tourists in Bid to Level Ghetto Barriers” by Lee Mitgang Nov 8, 1978 A30
“The Future Is Behind Us: Make Way for the Past; Architectural Outlook for the ’80s: Make Way for the Past” by Wolf Von Eckardt. Dec 30, 1978 C1
“Opportunity for a Livable City; The Urban and Suburban Choices Facing Washington’s New Mayor” by Wolf Van Eckardt Jan 13, ’79 B1
“The Motown Model; GM Spruces Up Its Neighborhood General Motors’ Motown Model” by Wolf Von Eckardt Jan 20, 1979 D1
“Going ’round in (Logan) Circles; How a Modest Dream Was Transformed Into a Bureaucratic Nightmare: Cityscape ‘Gentrification’ and Logan Circle” by Wolf Von Eckardt Feb 3, 1979 D1
“Preservation Is Not the Enemy of the Poor; Preserving Cities For Poor Residents” by Beverly A. Reece Feb 10, 1979 E29
“Measuring Change in the Cities” Feb 22, 1979 A16
“Mayor Voices Housing Concerns” by Blair Gately, special to The Washington Post Mar 15, 1979 DC5

A few articles in my own ProQuest gentrification query were written by Wolf Von Eckardt, who did the art & architecture beat. January 13, 1979 in “Opportunity for a Livable City” (B1, B4) he has hopes for the new mayor, Marion Barry. As a candidate it seems that Mr. Barry was not fond of the ‘rehabilitation movement’ taking place in the city by the middling classes. Von Eckardt wrote:

In the first place, displacement due to rehabilitation may not be as widespread as Mayor Barry was told. His task force said approximately 150,000 families were in danger of being thrown out of their houses. The Census Bureau just told us that the city lost population. Could it be that many of these endangered families have displaced themselves– to Prince George’s County?

I’m also noticing in the results for the mid to late 1970s an anixety about the growth of suburbs. Which leads me to think that some people are ‘renovating’ and moving into economically depressed areas and there are more getting the heck outta D(odge) C(ity), either to PG, MoCo, or NoVA.

Boyz on the street

…have relocated, cut back normal operating hours and have reduced staff.
I’ve noticed one crew of young men who regularly stand in a spot have relocated a small portion of their numbers to a secondary location. This spot has been the focus of some city attention (tree trimming, busts) and I have heard tell that after one shooting incident residents are calling the police more.
Over on my side of NJ Ave the numbers are down but not zero. I compare the situation to what it was like 7 years ago. Old timers compare the situation to what it was like 20 years ago or more. It’s like ghost stories at camp, but it’s standing around a stoop instead of sitting around a campfire. They tell tale of dealers all along the sidewalk, who were so brazen they had furniture set up and made it difficult for people who lived on the street to get back to their homes from work (or where ever). Anyway, we do have the guys hanging out but their movements and spots are not regular as in days past. They still have an outpost at the corner north of me, but there isn’t someone there at all times. They will split when the weather is bad (rain, hail, freezing temps) unlike the older days when they’d stick it out in the rain. They have opened a new branch at the corner south of me, however their hold on it seems unstable and it is not regularly staffed either. In between there is a house or two to visit, but the residents have to be home or else someone is going to call the cops.
The situation has changed in the past 7 years that make hanging out and possibly doing a few drug sales on the side harder. Not in order of importance or anything but for one, walkers and joggers. People are walking their dogs and their kids, sometimes both, at all hours. In the morning when I go to work, in the middle of the day (the work at home people), in the evening and at night. These are eyes on the street and snouts in the treeboxes. Apparently, I’ve been told, if neighbors regularly walk their dogs through the alley that cuts down on any dealings in the alley. Second, fewer vacant buildings. Vacant buildings made lovely spots to stash stuff, conduct business, whatever. Third, fewer customers. Gauging street traffic and foot traffic changes there is more noise than signal. Fewer crackheads walking around, more law-abiding residents, joggers, and dogs. I don’t know if gas prices* will cut down on the MD and VA customer base, maybe. Fourth, fewer recruits. Not just dealers but numbers of kids to be look outs, decoys, and fewer persons to provide cover and excuses.
Even with their dwindled numbers I don’t expect the boyz to disappear completely anytime soon. They may be able to bring in new dealers, but without a supporting infrastructure the enterprise might not be worth the effort and hassle.

*I’m gonna blame gas prices on everything from the cost of food to the frizzes in my hair.

Front Yard Tomatoes

Walking around the hood I’m noticing more folks growing tomatoes in their front yards. I’m wondering if it is a fluke? Are they accidental tomato plants grown from a stray tomato seed from a) a discarded sandwich or b) compost- those tomato seeds seem to survive compost?
Regardless I’m happy to see a part of the Shaw lawn going to food production. I haven’t had too many worries about growing things in the front yard. My concerns are:
1. Kids playing on the sidewalk will almost always throw a ball in your yard knocking over and possibly destroying plants.
2. G-dd-mned squirrels eating unripe fruit and leaving them 1/2 eaten on the step, or fence or high spot you can’t reach.
3. Newspaper delivery people aiming for plants.

I have gotten emails with concerns about front yard tomatoes getting stolen and attracting rats. I don’t know about rats, as I haven’t seen any evidence of them and I figure the fruit grows too high for them to reach and I collect all of it so none of it hits the ground. And the only ones who’ve stolen from me are the squirrels.

Tonight 5C01 mtg

Dear Neighbor,
You are invited to participate in


6:30 PM



RSVP: 202-550-0619, Anita Bonds, ANC Commissioner 5C01

Dunbar High School Band Dinner Show

If I only knew where the heck my camera was I’d have pictures.
Whilst sitting around the house this afternoon enjoying a post dinner fattening sweet, I heard. No, felt, drums and brass. It sounded very close. It sounded like it was getting closer, so I poked my head out the door and discovered a pleasant surprise. There was a casually dressed marching band coming down my street. It was like a mini parade. The sound brought out a few of my neighbors who looked on the assemblage of dancers, flag girls, brass, wind, and percussion.
As an occasional, once in a while, mobile thing, it was quite nice.

NoMa Claiming TC space

Noma Trash Can
Originally uploaded by In Shaw

Saturday when I was out and about I noticed NoMa work crews cleaning up the sidewalks around the NY Ave metro station. Not just there though, they also were in the TC cleaning. There are 4 blocks of NE Truxton (between FL, NY NE and N. Cap) that I tend not to care about as they are a parking lot, DDOT, the Wendy’s, and the block with issues. I’ve seen the NoMa uniformed people, and the NoMa tagged trash cans, like the one in the photo, in NE TC.
However, this Saturday I spotted them in NW TC, along the western side of North Capitol. They were sweeping and pulling up weeds.
Is this how neighborhood take overs start? With small troops of older men armed with brooms and scoops. Is territory marked with fancy trash cans? I like the trash cans.
Little matter, North Cap needs cleaning and since there is no North Cap BID (well not one that I know of) we welcome our Capitol Hill North NoMa overlords. May they bring us convienent shopping and quirky small regional chains or at least cleaner streets.

Map of NoMa territory
NoMa Website

Risking a jinx- fireworks

At the risk of jinxing it, have you noticed a decrease in pre-4th of July firework noise? I swear this time a few years back there was the old neighborhood question of “fireworks or gunfire?” Over time I’ve noticed a decrease in firework activity that used to start up around mid June and continue into early August. It’s late June and I’ve only heard one incident of fireworks going off.
The 4th also provides a good gauge of what’s going on with the neighborhood. It will be interesting to see how many drive by fireworkings there are. The drive bys are where people with MD tags jump out from their mini-van, get their big package of fireworks out and light them up on a DC corner, then jump back into the vehicle and head back to Maryland. With gas prices above $4 a gallon, we might see less of that.
Then again the reason I might be hearing fewer firecrackers, is because this year I have insulation and completely closed windows(AC).