When Historic Districts Attack- The 4th Amendment

This is a reposting of an old post from 2007. For some odd reason I was thinking about when historic districting goes south and remembered this case.

Long story short, artist Laura Elkins and John Robbins were getting on the Historic Preservation Office’s (HPO) and DCRA’s bad side and it resulted in a search warrant of their home, where they were living. The incident got some press. It attracted my attention. And it worked its way through the courts. Leagle has a pretty good summary of the case.

See also- Memorandum Opinion- 2007
Memorandum Opinion- 2008
United States Court of Appeals 2012 Decision

File under WTF?

Thanks Ray for pointing out an article in the Washington Times [dead link] (as I hardly ever read that paper) of a couple who won a lawsuit against the DC government for a raid on their home, unlawful seizure of papers from said home, regarding perceived Historic Preservation violations.
A little Google search regarding the saga reveals differing opinions on if the couple actually did the HPRB dance correctly, which is not the matter that makes me fearful, it was the police raid of their home that concerns my little libertarian heart. The portion of the 4th amendment the violation in this is “no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
According to the lawsuit [pdf] a March 26, 2003 warrant was issued to search the home of Ms. Elkins and Mr. Robbins, but the warrant didn’t say anything about seizing papers or the like. The next day DC’s finest and DCRA “officials went throughout the home (including the
bedrooms of sick children home from school), opening drawers, observing, and taking photos.”
Seriously, this is just supposed to be about exterior crap, not worthy of a f*ing raid. One of the few things I agree with the pro-Historic District people on is that HDs are about the outside aesthetics of house, and what can be observed from the street, etc, etc. However, this, is something else. Investigate the case for yourself, decide if DC went too far a violated a family’s privacy and order.
On the bright side, Ms. Elkins, an artist, has turned her experience into art.

no Twitter with current id

A Tale of Two Art All Nights: Shaw v North Capitol

The Help and I hit two of the Art All Night events this weekend, Shaw and North Capitol Main Streets. Two days later and I am still tired.
Art all night dc 2017
Shaw Main Streets had more businesses sponsoring and hosting events and was bigger. There were a dizzying amount of events and things to do, fifty-seven things according to the event map. I picked 3-4 things to go to and the streets were packed. But then again, it’s the U Street/ 7th Street corridor on a Saturday night, of course it is packed. Rooftop bars were busy. Most bars were busy, rooftop or not. There were artists making art on the street, there were performances by musicians , there was way too much to choose from, which is why I chose three things on my way back to my house so I could hit the North Capitol Main Street’s Art All Night.

North Capitol was smaller with only eight venues and less crowded, more my speed. North Capitol is where I spent most of my energy and time. We met up with a friend and his three kids at the silent disco sponsored by Quiet Events. Unlike last time we did the North Capitol Art All Night where there was a silent disco, the headphones were free (leave an adult’s ID or credit card) this time and I think that made a world of difference.  Three DJs helped too. So with that set up my friend was able to bring his three kids and other parents also brought their kids and danced like silly people in a vacant lot that will have a building on in the coming years. The music wasn’t exactly kid friendly, but remembering as a kid I didn’t think too deeply about the lyrics of most pop songs, it probably was okay.

Art all night dcAfter feeling our age we went to two venues in the Truxton at North Cap and Florida, then trekked over to the Shaw venues at Lot 42 and the Shaw Library. Which by the time we got there with 3 kids in tow (way past their bedtime) Lot 42 was even more crowded. I had gone to the Shaw library because I needed to find a bathroom….. and as a side note, I did not notice any porta potties. While in line at the library for a bathroom with only two stalls, some poor woman was struggling, visually struggling to hold it in. For large events, this can be a problem. Okay, back to the Shaw event. Because I had gone to the library I saw what was going on in the basement and ran into a librarian who mentioned the library was open and you could check out books. Awesome. Our gaggle went to the library where the kids engaged in making art.

After 11PM we all headed home. I was dead tired. My phone said I made over 18,000 steps. Those are the most steps I think I’ve ever made.




Handbook for Hosts- Funny and Corny

I’m too lazy to link but today the Help and I saw as a part of the Fringe Festival Banished Productions/Happenstance Theater’s  production of Handbook for Hosts that mixed up cliched post war Noir, some Cold War ice with a side of corn on a heaping plate of comedy. We genuinely laughed and groaned. If you are familiar with mid century Jazz/ Post-War pop culture and film noir you’d get a huge kick out of it. Now if you’re thinking “I need me some cross-dressing to truly enjoy this,” well there is a bit of that too. There is some cheese in this too, but it is safe for the lactose intolerant. For some odd reason we found the shadow screen funny, the locomotive image funny and cheesy. A good cheesy.

This page contains a single entry by Mari published on July 17, 2010 8:27 PM.

Theater Stuff

I am looking forward to Banished Production’s Fringe Festival piece “Handbook for hosts” which is described as where film noir meets radio drama. Go to their website at http://banishedproductions.org/productions.html to see what it is all about. I’ve enjoyed their past productions of a “Tactile Dinner” and wonder what they have in store. The tickets are about $15 which is a good price for live theater. You can get tickets here. I’ve been told they’ll be doing this out of the Studio Theater on 14th which is a good Shaw spot for pre-theater noshing and grabbing chocolate.

I also got another theater email, and since I don’t really do announcements anymore (that’s what BACA is for), but now looking at it now the information had expired. Oh well.

This page contains a single entry by Mari published on July 7, 2010 8:24 AM.

Grusesome Playground Injuries

This has very little to do with Shaw but I was invited and the Wolly Mammoth, where this play was performed is between work and home, so good enough.
We did make an effort to go to one of the WM supporters, Cedar Restaurant. I was barely aware of the place before seeing anything at the Wolly. We enjoyed the appetizers. Maybe next time 701, I sometimes go there for lunch.
The play itself is funny and later touching but not for the easily grossed out. If the sounds of loud retching makes you want to toss your cookies. Avoid. The story is about two self-destructive accident prone people and their relationship. The staging is a little odd, and made it difficult to see some on stage wardrobe changes if one sat in the balcony area. The music was modern, right now Lady GaGa is stuck in my head because of it. But in the end, it is quite touching. The Help noticed that I wasn’t the only one teary eyed leaving the theater.

Days of Art

I haven’t been at the computer for a couple of days and I really enjoyed having a pretty computer free weekend. From about Thursday to Saturday was kinda art intensive for me.

Thursday I attended the Tactile Dinner at the Big Bear Café with the Help. We were seated separately, but he enjoyed himself and his tablemate. Having had experienced the Fringe Festival version and this, maybe not having any expectations helps. This second go around had me missing some things from the first, but couldn’t be done with the space. Instead of a projection, as in the Fringe production, F.T. Marinetti, walked amongst us. We enjoyed ourselves; though the Help was a little sad he was not picked to perform an embarrassing task (arm flapping or hula hoop motions). Yes, audience participation was a part of it; the dinner is experienced with the eyes and the tongue, not so much the nose this time around. I was sitting next to the Washington Post reporter so, read her article for more on that.

Friday I decided to walk home and I wanted to duck away from the main strip of 7th Street and wandered into a pop up art project at 625 E St NW, and was really struck by the work of artist Margaret Bowland.

Banished Productions Hits the Big Bear

This is so exciting. Well to me, and I’ve already asked the Help if his schedule permits if we can go. If he can’t go then I’ll just go by myself.

What I speak of is Banished Production’s “A Tactile Dinner”, which I attended back during the DC Fringe Festival. It was weird and good. They will be having “dinner” at the Big Bear for three days starting May 13th then mosey on over to Longview Gallery for 2 days. Big Bear for vegetarians, Longview for carnivores. Head over to their website for more info.

Moved and Banished

Two things.
One- I have moved this blog over to blog.inshaw.com if anyone cares.

Two- and this is really exciting, Banished productions is doing their Futurist inspired dinner at Big Bear & Long View Gallery (see more info here) starting May 13th. I went to their last dinner during the Fringe Festival and it’s weird and good and definately a fun experience.

Gentrification and Theatre

This weekend I and the Help were invited to see the play Clybourne Park at the Woolly Mammoth Theater down in Penn Quarter. According to the theater’s website on the drama and the promotional information:

Clybourne Park explores the evolution of racism and gentrification over the past half-century in America by imagining the conflicts surrounding the purchase of a house in a white neighborhood in the 1950s by an African American family, and then the re-design of that house in “post-racial” 2009. While Clybourne Park is a Chicago neighborhood, the play makes no direct reference to its geography. Woolly believes Clybourne Park is highly reflective of the changes happening to neighborhoods throughout DC and across the metropolitan area (and urban America).

And it is a riff off of Raisin in the Sun with the first half of the play taking place in the home of the family selling the home (that we assume) the RITS’ Af-Am Younger family. I thought that first half started a little slow.
I really appreciated the director’s commentary after the performance at a reception. On one point as urban DC people living in 2010 we know how to judge the characters of 1959 in the first half of the play, saying with confidence Mr. Lindner, from the Clybourne Park Improvement Association, is wrong in arguing against selling to the Black family. However in the second half, taking place in what I gather to be 2009, that moral surety is not there and issues of race and gentrification are tied up in arguments about ‘history’ and architecture.
Since the Help and I are both in the History field, we pondered the ‘history’ part for a while. We also pondered the racial and chronological make up of the audience at that performance. History is messy and we found it interesting that one of the Af-Am characters was pushing the idea that the desired preserved history started with the integration of the neighborhood, not its establishment or previous ethnic makeup. Also when the Help (the whitest white guy who was ever white) pointed out the demographics of the audience which had a smattering of Afro-Americans, I mentioned audiences like my Aunt and her friends tend to favor Tyler Perryish morality plays over at the Warner Theatre.
The second half of the play does try to press a lot of gentrification topics into 6 characters. Two topics did ring a bell in relation to stories and events witnessed in the Shaw neighborhood, history and racial defensiveness. The Shaw historical narrative isn’t wrong, it just leaves a whole lot out that isn’t particularly marketable in the larger “Heritage” theme. And one character reminded me so much of a former neighbor who was one of those isolated* white families who moved to Shaw, who tried to be a good neighbor but had to walk on eggshells every time they interacted with their Black neighbors because even the banal issues were hidden roadside bombs of pent up racial anger.

UPDATE- Theater Discount

Readers of this blog can see any performance of Clybourne Park for only $15. Use this numeric code 789 when arranging tickets. Reservations can be made online (woollymammoth.net), over the phone (202-393-3939), or in person (641 D Street NW, Washington, DC). Clybourne Park runs March 15 – April 11, 2010. Performances are Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm and 7pm. Questions? Visit woollymammoth-dot-net or email Rachel Grossman, Connectivity Director, Rachel-at-Woollymammoth.net

*Isolated in that they were the only white people on the whole block.