2008 InShaw Year in Review

Looking back at the 2008 posts so far there are a few themes that stand out, and some that don’t but I’m bringing them forward anyways.
First are houses, houses for sale, houses that are abandoned and vacant, houses that are just plain ugly. Before the Wall Street apocalypse Shaw was experiencing the rise of foreclosures. We had attracted many investors who discovered the limits of HGTV and easy financing, that limit being psycho high prices that no one in their right mind would buy at and mortgages that no rent would cover. Then there were houses that weren’t even fixed up that were placed on the block and we hoped, and are still hoping, that some one will fix them and get people living in them. Then there are the ugly re-dos, the pop-ups or pop-tops. The still horribly ugly pop-up at 26 P St NE that I blogged about in February is still there, still unoccupied and still ugly. I also took a look at vacant properties around the TC, which also had me looking at tax rates to see if those vacant houses were being taxed higher. Looking at taxes, I discovered dead people pay real estate tax at the senior citizen rate.
History has fallen as a topic over the year, I can’t say that I’ll get better. Earlier in 2008 I blogged about older photos of Shaw found, Bates Street, and the Shaw School Urban Renewal Area. A particular highlight was locating the language of the Redevelopment Act which laid out the borders of the Shaw neighborhood, which includes Logan Circle, U Street, and Truxton Circle. Speaking of the TC, the argument over the name died down (a bit) after the banners appeared on street signs in July.
In the area of commerce we saw several wonderful things opening and changing in Bloomingdale, which is just next door to the TC. Timor opened up with a few shelves and the milk that we all love. Big Bear got even more popular. The Bloomingdale Farmers Market just kept getting better and better, adding more vendors and remaining neighborly. The historic KFC also known as the bulletproof KFC closed. Luciana Cafe opened along North Cap in the TC, but the TC being the TC doesn’t have a lot of businesses opening, so we got excited.
Crime was still doing a cha-cha of two steps forward one big step back. Earlier in the year I didn’t write too much about crime. Also the long standing problems and nuisances of young men hanging out (possibly selling drugs) were slowly getting better. I noticed that the crowds of hanger-outers were getting smaller and less frequent. Gunshots were getting less frequent as well. Fireworks started later, and ended closer to the end of July. However, starting in Fall muggings and street beatings seemed to go up. Then there was the fatal stabbing at 3rd and R and the murder at 11th and Q. Also in the fall/winter period I posted the faces of two wanted men, who thankfully were captured.
Quickly skimming over politics, Mayor Fenty had been spotted at a BACA meeting and at Big Bear. I and other bloggers interviewed Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. Jessica Lanza challenged Doris Brooks, but sadly did not win. But the 2C stalemate ended with the win of Theresa Sule. Michael A$$hat Brown got elected as a wink-wink independent on the city council.
There was a bunch of other things. I got central air. People started giving me booze and I was glad. KIPP looking at JF Cook. Lots more. But this is long enough.
Happy New Year.

Inauguration Musings- More Obama Stuff Than U Can Shake A Stick At

W & W
Originally uploaded by In Shaw

Over the weekend I wandered over to the Capitol City Market area near Florida Avenue and discovered where your local street vendor gets his Obama stuff. Obama t-shirts, Obama calenders, Obama umbrellas, Obama hats, Obama watches, Obama posters, Obama buttons, and I’m sure if there is something else the president-elect’s face and his family’s faces can be plastered on….. it is there.
There were also little 8×11 notices of protest around. It seems that the city’s deadline for a vendor permit to do the Inauguration is too soon and the process is unfair, according to the notice writer.

DC will auction off nuisance properties

Their own properties that is.
You’ve complained about them. I’ve complained about them. DC owned properties that do nothing but harbor rats and trash. Well it looks like they are on the auction block (HT: Bloomingdale Blog)
Let me point out two Shaw properties on the auction block, 1713 New Jersey Ave. NW and 1504 6th St. NW. Most of the properties are in NE, and Columbia Heights. They all look like shells. But some of them are huge looking mansions, shells of mansions but huge. They’d probably make some well endowed non-profit a nice home.

Inauguration Musings- No bikes on Metro

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read in the Post that bikes won’t be allowed on metro trains during the inaugural weekend. I totally understand no bikes on the 20th, but for four whole days? So I went to WMATA’s website and there it was “Bicycles also will be prohibited on the rail system from Saturday, Jan. 17 through Tuesday, Jan. 20.”
At least there is still the bus to put your bike on.

Sort of Retelling/rewriting History

I’m trudging through Monique M. Taylor’s Harlem: Between heaven and hell which looks at the role of the black middle class and gentrification in Harlem. Harlem, has a special place in AfrAmerican and American cultural history, so there is that attractive and laudable past that attracts middle and upper middle class blacks.
In the first chapter Taylor writes how Harlem came into being via a real estate bust. Speculators bought up properties in Harlem around the turn of the 20th century because the Manhattan subway or street car (I’m not clear which) was coming up to Harlem and well, you know. Too many houses constructed, too high of a price, and then the bubble popped. Sound familiar? In this economic crisis ” many landlords were willing to rent properties to blacks. … Others shrewdly took advantage of white prejudice. The hope was that by placing blacks into certain properties, neighboring whites would vacate their properties and free them up at extremely low prices.”[1] Around the mid to late 1910s Harlem became a majority black neighborhood. Then by 1920 notable and influential black organizations had established or relocated themselves in Harlem. Over time the positives that Harlem is known for flourished.
However, while there was this great Harlem Renaissance taking place, the glory outshone the negative side of Harlem. The unemployment, the crowded living conditions, the poverty and segregation. The famous Cotton Club was for white patrons only. The realities of the negatives resulted in large homes being carved up into smaller units to crowd poor people into and when the glitter of Harlem’s shine started getting dull a depressing ghetto began to show underneath.
The background is needed to understand the black middle class who come to or returned to Harlem to ‘restore it to it’s former glory.’ As I was reading the stories of the black mid class (let’s say buppies for short) fixing up properties I noticed something. They are making the buildings reflect their pre-black neighborhood past, while lauding the Harlem Renaissance period. You mix your time periods long enough they meld into one, so that it is easy to imagine people like us (buppies) living in the grand houses and participating in the Renaissance. No one in the book, so far, has confused the periods, but the thinking seems to skate very close to it.
The book is very interesting in addressing class. But class seems to be too clunky and static a term. Taylor does show in one example how the relationship between buppies and poor blacks goes from we are all one to those sorry so-and-sos. Maybe more about that later.

[1]Taylor, Monique M. Harlem: Between heaven and hell. University of Minnesota Press. Minneapolis, 2002. p. 5

MPD seeks information – Homicide Victim: Durval Martins

Please see the attached flyer regarding the homicide of Durval Martins, which occurred early this morning. Feel free to redistribute or post this flyer, as MPD seeks information on this incident.

On Tuesday, December 16, 2008, around 3:06 am, Durval Martins was shot and killed while at the intersection of 11th and Q Streets, NW. The Metropolitan Police Department seeks the public’s assistance in gathering information regarding this incident.

The case is under investigation by members of the Department’s Criminal investigations Division, Homicide Branch. Anyone with information about this case is asked to call Detective Paul Regan on 2/425-5563 (cell) or 2/645-0472; Detective Doug Carlson on 2/486-0233 (cell) or 645-6360; or the Command Information Center (CIC) at 727-9099. Callers wishing to remain anonymous may call 1-888-919-CRIME (888 919-2746). Anonymous information may also be forwarded to the department’s TEXT TIP LINE by text messaging 50411.

The Department currently offers a reward of up to $25,000 to anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for any homicide committed in the District of Columbia. Your assistance is appreciated by your community.



Matt W. Ashburn, Auxiliary #1314
Special Liaison Unit
Executive Office of the Chief of Police
Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department
1369-A Connecticut Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036
E-mail: matthew dot ashburn at dc.gov

Inauguration Musings- The Day After

The train was crowded this morning. It seems there was a problem on the green line and there were all these people. At least they were regulars and knew how the system worked.
Yesterday I was overhearing some co-workers talking and wondering about getting to work the day after the inauguration. The people who do come to DC (and haven’t been scared away by the crowds) for January 20th may still be around January 21st. They may be hopping on the metro to get to Union Station, National, Dulles, or BWI. They might be hanging out with friends they’re crashing with or just getting over the hangover from the inaugural party. The thought of having several thousand people on the metro, who don’t know our sacred law of stand on the right, doesn’t thrill me. Then there will be those in cars trying to get out… the beltway is going to be a mess.
I might put in for leave for the 21st. Or mentally prepare myself to walk to work. The 70 and 79 bus is crowded normally. I could hop on the Circulator and get to work.