Archive for May, 2007

Busted by the HOA!

Tuesday afternoon I went to play tennis with my friend who, sadly, lives in suburban Virginia. His neighborhood has tennis courts but we decided to play on some courts a few neighborhoods down Rt. 7 so I’d have a shorter trip from DC. I do not want to give the name away, but this is a neighborhood I’ve had friends in for over 20 years and that has courts that are seldom used and would certainly be empty on a hot weekday afternoon.

On the drive I get a call from my friend, telling me that he had just been kicked out by the homeowners association president. “Well, stay there,” I say, “Let me come talk to him and ask if we can play as guests of my friends who live there.”

My friend said, “I’m just leaving. He’s a complete ***hole and I don’t want to deal with him anymore.”

I should have been smart and taken that as a warning to stay away, but living in the city has made me soft and forgetful that dealing with a homeowners association board member is in no way like dealing with a regular human.

A bad sign at Bebo

Both Tom and I have discussed how much we love Bebo Tratoria, Roberto Donna’s restaurant in Crystal City. For those of us whose love for Galileo always exceeded our wallets, it was a real grodsend. It was also a nice change from the run-down look Galileo was sporting in its last year. The last two times I was in there – visits that were several months apart – there was a door in the bar that had its perimeter sealed with black duct tape. Maybe that’s okay in Subway, but with a per-person tab approaching $100 before wine it is just unacceptable.

So imagine my distress when I visited the Bebo restroom on my most recent visit last month and saw this. Is this the start of the same downward maintenance slide? I have sympathy – I know a little something about working with mirror and have broken enough of them to insure bad luck into the next millennium. That looks like someone tightened down something a little too hard at the faucet and a custom cut that size will run into the hundreds, so I understand not necessarily being thrilled to do the fix.

However I think I can speak for any customer in saying that when I see poor maintenance in the bathroom I wonder where else is sub-standard. Your food is too good to be surrounded with distractions like this, Mr Donna.

No cannonball for Fenty

One of the more amusing aspects of Mayor Anthony Williams eight year tenure as mayor was his annual ceremonial cannonball to open D.C. pools every summer. According to City Desk, a CityPaper blog, freshman mayor Adrian Fenty doesn’t plan on keeping the tradition.

The official opening is scheduled for June 25. And he isn’t ruling out a cannonball for the kick off–so long as the diver is a member of the media. “I was going to [dive],” Fenty told the radio audience of WAMU-FM’s The D.C. Politics Hour With Kojo and Jonetta on May 25. “but [WRC-TV reporter] Tom Sherwood actually says he’s going to do it.”

While I have no doubt that many area politicians would be quite happy to “help” Sherwood into the pool, it isn’t the same. Sherwood isn’t sure he is going to do it either:

Not so fast, Sherwood shoots back. “I would do it, but someone would have to offer up some cash,” he says. “For $5,000, I’ll do it.”

Sherwood isn’t contemplating a lucrative new career in professional athletics. But he does want his dive to produce something more than a good laugh. “I will ask the person to donate the money to a charity of my choosing,” he says. “Everything has a price.”

C’mon on Mr. Mayor, take the plunge!

Not On My Watch

I’m pretty sure I saved a lady from being kidnapped tonight. I went to the Hoffman Center AMC to see ‘Bug’ (which was freakin’ awesome) and then snuck in to see ‘Spiderman 3’ again. So I was leaving the theater around 12:40 at night. The place was a ghost town and the parking lot was only a third full (with my car sitting alone way in the back). Most of the cars were parked near the theater.

I entered the parking lot and saw a car sitting in the lane between two rows of parked cars. There was a guy standing in the driver side door, the passenger and rear-passenger doors were open too. A woman was leaning out of the rear passenger door. Both people at the car were watching another guy wrestling with a woman between two parked cars.

I looked around and realized we were the only people in the lot. At first I thought they were just playing around but then the woman broke free. She started to desperately run away but got grabbed again. The guy at the driver’s door started his way around the car to join in.

That’s when I yelled, “Are you all right?!”

The guys froze and the woman squirmed and I started walking towards them and repeated, “Are you all right?!”

The woman leaning out of the car said, “yeah we’re fine,” and one of the men let out a menacing chuckle. But the woman being manhandled began to wriggle more violently. So I stopped about 10 feet from the car and said, “you know there’s a cop over there,” or something like that.

Then the woman broke free and ran past me towards the front of the theater (where a cop car is stationed). One of the men started after her but had second thoughts after seeing me standing in his way. So the men jumped in their car and took off.

I confirmed the woman was at the cop car before I went to my car. Then I drove slowly around the lot for a few minutes to make sure they didn’t come back.

The Hardest Working Scalpers In America


Originally uploaded by tbridge.

Coming off the Metro tonight at Stadium/Armory, I walked up to the most beautiful rendition of Take Me Out To the Ballgame, played by a man with the most amazing silver dreads and a sax that had seen many many notes played on its tarnished brass keys. Then, once he was done playing I moved along 19th St toward the stadium, and saw the group of scalpers trying to ply their wares.

They have, quite possibly, the hardest job in DC right now, trying to drum up interest in tickets that aren’t worth their face value before the game, let alone after the game’s started. They have a nearly impossible job in trying to get anything like face value back on the tickets, unless of course the Giants and Barry Bonds are in town, or if it’s the Phillies or the Mets, but this week it’s the Dodgers, and no one’s buying.

Good luck, hardworking scalpers. You’ve got your work cut out for you.

Photographing DC

DC Sunset

Chris Scholl sent us his Guide to Shooting Washington DC, which in and of itself is interesting, both for what it chooses to recommend, and what it chooses to ignore.

It focuses primarily on the usual places, the Mall, Embassy Row, Dupont Circle, the Museums and the monuments. Where’s the love for places like Lincoln Park in Capitol Hill? Old Town Alexandria? Union Station? Nothing at all in Southeast? Hains Point (at least til the Emerging Man is moved…) and Rock Creek Park (especially that bridge!) are left off the list.

I love this town’s incredible photographic wealth, and to see most of it ignored in a guide is frustrating. But, there are some great tips about how to shoot in this town which can be applied all over the place. Get out, explore, photograph this town. It’s pretty. It deserves it.

The Mayor of Silver Spring


How many bums get a street (an alley actually) named after them? How many a sculpture garden? Not many I would hazard to guess. But here in Silver Spring, Norman Lane has both. Although long before my time, his presence on the streets is legendary. This may be an old story for long-time residents, some of whom may even have known him, but I thought I’d share the story with the rest of our readers. Since you probably can’t read the plaque in the photo, I’ll transcribe it below.

The “Mayor of Silver Spring” was our official town drunk. Although he was born into a prominent DC family, Norman got off to a rough start. His mother had TB and the stress of bringing him to term took her life and left little Norman
with life-long problems. He ran away from a school for retarded children when he was six. He grew up as an outcast, drifting around the country doing odd jobs, farm work and washing dishes. He was an odd shaped piece that never quite fit into society’s jigsaw puzzle.

Norman’s was the picture of misery. Often wearing his shoes on the wrong feet, his rumpled clothes hung off his 90 pound frame like a scarecrow. He looked like a gargoyle peering out from under a hard hat. After returning to the DC area, he spent the winter of 1966 in Glenmont, sleeping in the fire department coal bin. That spring he wandered down Georgia Avenue.

In Silver Spring he found a home. The Phillips family set up a cot for him in the back of their autobody shop. For 25 years Norman lived in that back alley garage, which was directly behind this statue. It was the only real home he ever knew. After his death, Norman’s alley, “Mayor Lane” was named for him. Silver Spring’s business community, the shoppers, the police, and fire departments were his family. They accepted his drinking, his course manners and came to love his quirky, Tom Sawyer sense of humor.

“Don’t worry ’bout it” was Norman’s answer to everything. As our “Mayor” made his rounds, he generously shared a bit of his permanent vacation with us work-a-day shut-ins. He owned nothing. He shambled through the streets, happily living out our worse fears for us. After seeing Norman, we really didn’t worry about it quite so much. Fridays were his big day. He retrieved armloads of flowers from the flower shop’s trash and passed out bouquets to the ladies (Norman loved the ladies). His weathered, toothless face looked like a rusty ax stuck in midst of those brightly-colored flowers.

One day he put out his last cigarette in his last beer and just like that, he quit. But the truth is he wasn’t much different sober. Silver Spring’s loving care allowed Norman to live out his life on his own terms. Silver Spring’s
finest hour lasted 25 years.

Norman passed away in 1987.

The monument was sculpted and donated by Fred Folsom in 1991.

Deaf Pedestrian: Honk or Holler?

What do you make of this sign: “Deaf Pedestrian”? What might that mean to you? Would you slow down? Would you be extra cautious? Would you even notice, or care if you did?

This deaf pedestrian sign is in my new Petworth neighbourhood and there is one off Florida Avenue at 15th. Where else might there be one? And is it respected?

Better yet, how do you respect a “deaf pedestrian” sign? Honking or hollering would be out. Might flashing lights or waving your arms be in? I ask this not as an ass, but as a hearing pedestrian and driver wondering what are the rules?

Are there specific Washington DC road rules when you see a deaf pedestrian sign? And why aren’t there deaf pedestrian signs all up and down Florida Avenue outside Gallaudet University? So many answers I desire to hear…

A place to wait

If you and your notably shorter or taller significant other need somewhere in Alexandria to sit and wait for all your DC Metrobloggers to get back from vacation, consider this odd bench.

Chihuly Boat

IMG_1178.JPG This here is a Chihuly boat installation sitting in the USBG National Garden regional pond. Dale Chihuly, a noted glass sculptor, has been doing glass-filled boats since 1995, inspired by Finnish children who would gather blown glass he had thrown into the Nuutajoki River.

You can view this particular blown glass boat in the National Garden till October 2007, as part of the USBG’s “Celebrating America’s Public Gardens” exhibit (well worth visiting for the variety of setups from public gardens all over the USA), and see more Chihuly boats here.

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