So what’s wrong with 481 Ridge St?

Okay it’s over in MVSQ-land but I’ve seen it listed and it is affordable, so what’s wrong with 481 Ridge St NW? I mean it’s listed for $199,900. Two blocks from the metro. Walking distance to Gallery Place-Chinablock, the Safeway, a bunch of stuff I like.
What is it riddled with termites? Dead bodies under the floorboards? What?

Ten Days of Truxton- Slavery

I’ve heard of an objection to Truxton’s name because he was a slaveholder. The whole city is named for a big old slaveholder. Worse yet, we’ve got a big phallic symbol on the Mall in honor of Washington, not far from that other memorial from another slaveholder, Jefferson, who also owned a number of humans.
The big biography by Eugene S. Furguson has very little to say about Commodore Thomas Truxton and slavery. Just one paragraph speaking of a period of then Captain Truxtun’s life when he was a on financially shaky ground and his family was growing with 6 girls and two boys. And the family seemed to split their time between Cranbury, New Jersey and Philadelphia:

Their Negro servant, Hannah, was still with the family; but Captain Truxtun, influenced by his late friend Franklin’s stand on slavery, had set her free on condition that he never be called upon to support her, should she leave his employ. Apparently she had chosen to stay on.

The Franklin mentioned is Benjamin Franklin.
Then the question is why did Hannah choose to stay. A couple factors might explain, she’s a woman, possibly alone with no family, possibly no supportive Afro-American community in Cranbury, her age may’ve played a factor, and it’s 1794-95.
So Truxtun’s sin was owning at least one woman who didn’t leave when the opportunity to do so was presented. For some that’s unforgivable and puts him in the same league as worse transgressors such as Washington and Jefferson. Others may not count it against him in light of what he has given to fledgling US Navy.

Next Ten Days of Truxton- Commodore’s Background

Why I hate meetings

Location- All Nations Church
Event- ANC 5C monthly meeting
It’s 8:40 and we are just getting to the Cook School. It was scheduled to be approached at 7:25.
It is just 9:13 and I think Marshall Phillips is speechifying. Topic, LAYC. The topic has been beaten like a dead horse.
I’m going to type in earlier notes…. Richard Norwood is the new Alice Thompson, the new Outreach and Service Specialist for Ward 5 from the Mayor’s office. An angry Hanover resident complaint that there is little beautification. She was answered by Commissioner Pinkney who said the sidewalks are concrete and can’t have trees. The next Hanover meeting (to address this) is the 4th Thurs in Oct at the CAPS school.
Joyce Robinson mentioned the New York Ave playground and that it has gone down.
The angry Hanover resident said the drug boys are back. The next 501 PSA meeting is the 3rd Wednesday of the month at the Harry Thomas Rec Center. The angry Hanover resident left unsatisfied with the responses provided by her ANC or the police.
She wasn’t the only one leaving unsatified. The neighbor fighting the variance at 1721 4th St wasn’t happy. Commissioner Anita Bonds, going on what she was told by the planning office believed the owners of 1421 could do what they wanted with adding the 4th floor by matter of right and the ANC should approve what is legally their right. The opposing neighbor tried to point out that it is not a matter of right because of the added density and the precedent. However it was well after 9:30 and the church was blinking the lights off and everyone wanted to go home and the argument was lost and the ANC approved the variance.
Side note- Harry Thomas is sporting what looks to be a beard.
Second note- I won’t go to another ANC 5C meeting unless forced to. With BACA you get kicked out around 9PM.
I hate meetings.

Loudmouth Cellphone talker presents job opps

Just passing this along…
I was on the bus heading home when a guy on a cell phone was talking loudly to his friend about applying for a job. He said they are hiring at where he works and they need people and he’s working both the day and night shift. He also announced they are hiring at Nine West. Where he works they’ll do a background check but as long as you didn’t do anything that involves stealing it’s cool. They are paying $7 something an hour, and need cashiers and stockers (night shift). Where is this place? Burlington Coat Factory in City Place Mall in Silver Spring. They are also hiring at Rainbow at City Place. Talk to the manager, her name might be Ebony. And there is a manager named Tasha (?) at the Nine West.
But the juiciest job tip was the bouncing gig. If you are a ‘female’ and you can break up fights (specifically fights in bathrooms), somewhere there is a club looking for you and will pay $100 a night. Sadly, I got off the bus before the name of this club was revealed.
Now I just wanna bust out in a rendition of “Meeting in the Ladies Room” (youtube)

Ten Days of Truxton- The Name- The Hood

Okay, I gotta book that I checked out of the library and I’ma goin’ to use it. The book is Truxtun of the Constellation by Eugene S. Furguson.
I am inspired to write for two reasons one is an article from the WP columnist John Kelly, “There is no Washington, DC– but I’m not renaming my column” and an Examiner article about the TC. In the John Kelly piece, if completely accurate supports my suspicion that people in the last few centuries weren’t sticklers when it came to place names. Federal City, Washington City, same diff. When the most accurate official and legal name isn’t high on your list of priorities sloppiness may occur. The punishment for sloppiness is that long after the responsible generation is dead later generations get to nit pick.
Seriously, someone find me PROOF, actual f*ing primary resourced proof that the Shaw neighborhood was named DIRECTLY after Robert Gould Shaw, and not the Shaw Junior High School, which was. Because prior to the 1950s I can’t find a bit of proof that the neighborhood was even called Shaw, as a neighborhood. Mid City and northwest are the only names that seem to pop up prior to the Shaw School Urban Renewal Project. I am not counting the school districting.
So, ’round the turn of the century there was the Truxton Circle (named for Thomas Truxtun) at Florida and North Capitol. I’ve heard talk that the actual circle was in Eckington. But since streets act as borders, I’m going to say it was bordering West Eckington and Old City. Eckington is a suburb of the City (of Washington).Using the journal Washington History Volume 14, No. 2 as a guide, there is Eckington(1887), Center Eckington (1891) and West Eckington(1891). These sub-divisions are on the other side of Boundary Street/ Florida Avenue and the City residents have just as much claim to the traffic circle as the Eckington and Bloomingdale(1889) ones.
So the Truxton traffic circle was a traffic hazard and it went away. But then appeared a Truxton Post Office. On Florida Avenue, NE, not helping my argument. And then sometime in the 60s or 70s it closed. Then in the 60s came the Shaw School Urban Renewal Area project of which the TC is a part of, but it appears there was no reason to call our part Truxton Circle. Then came the Ward & ANC system in the 70s where Shaw was divided, having most of Shaw in Ward 2 and the TC in Ward 5. In the late 80s when the District government was selling houses and bringing in cable, they referred to the area as Truxton Circle.
Next Ten Days of Truxton: Slavery.

Tree damage

Tree damage
Originally uploaded by In Shaw

This weekend, some jerk or tribe of jerks tried to tear down the tree in my treebox.
The amount of time I then devote to trying to ‘fix’ the problem made me think about another aspect of care of things in the public space, you can’t force people to care. Yes, you can have laws against destroying trees in treeboxes, but there are laws against breaking into people’s cars and that hasn’t seemed to stop glittery piles of glass from appearing in the hood. What I’m thinking about is the care on the side of the people of the block.
A few months ago I got into one of those on-line arguments about watering trees the city decides to plop in front of your house or business without your permission or buy-in and then tells you to water the blasted thing. I still stand on the necessity of buy-in from the community and the person/persons who will need to water the tree. Because besides watering the tree you need people to care about it when it is attacked by vandals, knocked over by people in SUVs who haven’t mastered parallel parking and playful kids who misjudged their weight and the tree’s strength. Then there are the weeds that grow around it because of the crappy mulching the city does.
So I spent some time hunting down friends and neighbor’s who knew trees to figured if the damaged branch could be saved. Answer, no. But it seemed that what remained may be salvaged. Thinking back, if this damage had happened when the tree was first put in, after the city ripped out my mum and the railroad ties I installed to put it in, I wouldn’t have cared and would have left it to die.

NOA Gallery

NOA Gallery
Originally uploaded by In Shaw

Several days ago I popped into a Bloomingdale gallery on my way to Timor, after a stop at Bloomingdale Liquors. NOA Galley at 132 Rhode Island Avenue, where the NOA stands for New, Old and Abstract. Inside are paintings, posters, sculptures, and some really cool 20th century lamps.
The thing about the gallery that I really liked was the affordable-ness of it. I’ve been to other galleries and there are things I like but I find out what the price is, usually $2K-$15K, and um, no. I saw a painting that was bigger than a bread box, on the second floor of this gallery, liked it and it was only $350. And I did look at the prices and even the cool lamps are under a thousand.

Evil Squirrels or Crackheads?

Evil Squirrels?
Originally uploaded by In Shaw

I grow a odd looking type of cucumbers, lemon cucumbers, so they are quite distinct and I think I’m the only one growing them in the hood. So yesterday, I was looking for a cuke that I was tracking the growth for and didn’t see it. Maybe I had harvested it and forgot.
Or not. Walking along Q Street I noticed this 1/2 eaten lemon cuke in a tree box and started screaming about the evils of squirrels. Those little furry agents of Satan that have been attacking my tomatoes, now are going after the cukes. Or are they? The fruit/veggie pictured is a little heavier than a tomato. Also this was found about 300 feet from the vine, a little far for a tree rat to drag away. So it is possible this is the work of a bad human.
Any other theories?

How I know things are better: cars

One morning I observed a city owned tow truck moving a car on New Jersey Avenue and I was reminded of a question. The question was asked in relation to gentrification and changes in the neighborhood, and it was “what is better?” Because I say that things are getting better and one way I know the neighborhood has gotten better is with parking enforcement.
There was a time when cars would get dumped on our street and they would sit. For days and weeks. While they sat, they attracted trash that would collect under the tires. We STRONGLY suspected that our friendly neighborhood drug dealers used the cars to stash drugs. Then there were the cars that were stolen, some with broken windows.
Well as good citizens we’d call up the city and ask for the cars to go away and early on it seemed like we were ignored. Because I remember there was a car parked near or under the poo-poo tree and I reported it, several times. And it did not go away for over a month. I’d report it, wait a few days or a week and report it again. I pondered paying a tow truck to make it go away and ditch it in Maryland. But it eventually went away, but it wasn’t the only car that was left unmoved.
Now, the city actually enforces the law. They ticket, a new thing that they started a few years ago. Also in the last few years they boot cars. I credit this to the demographic changes in the neighborhood with more active voters who try to hold the city accountable and demand decent city services. It is not that there weren’t any politically or civicly active people here before, it’s just that there are now more of them, which helps with burn out.

Back to the drawing board

1721 4 St NW
Originally uploaded by In Shaw

I’ve told a friend that if you want to get active in this neighborhood there are lots of fights to get involved with. There is the billboard fight, the dog park, the Cook school, and closer to me zoning issues. The poorly painted house is on next weeks’s ANC 5C’s agenda. The owner wants to add a fourth floor. At the last ANC meeting, where he, the owner, wasn’t listed on the agenda, he apparently agreed to keeping the mansard roof. However when appearing before the BZA (Board of Zoning Adjustment) the owner’s drawings had a gabled (think suburban house roof) roof. It will be interesting to see if the owner took the BZA’s recommendations to heart.
Also the Cook School is on the meeting’s agenda as well.

ANC 5C Meeting
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
7:00pm -9:00pm
All Nations Church
Rhode Island at North Capitol Street, NE