Archive for the ‘Logan Circle’ Category

Yes, DC does have a radical underside

To my surprise, DC has an extant, long lasting infoshop!

That may not ring any bells among those of you who didn’t go to college with a bunch of radical anarchists who shouted “fuck the police!” and “smash the state!” Frankly, it’s not part of my world anymore either–once I left college, I slowly drifted away from punks and DIYers who created their own zines and would wheat-paste fliers on walls around town after dark.

I’m not sure what an infoshop is technically meant to be, but the one I hung around in Berkeley, CA was a place where you could stay all day, reading books about ending speciesism or acting up against the military-industrial complex, and then have a meal of second-hand brown bread and vegan soup. And where the shelves were packed with homemade zines about folks’ adventures and thoughts. Kinda like paper blogs. No, make that just like paper blogs.

I’m not making fun of these places. It’s the greatest thing when people’s ideals push them to actually do something rather than just talk about it. It’s just such a walk down memory lane for me, though, that I have to laugh.

So DC’s infoshop is exactly like the one in Berkelely, only smaller. And the people are friendlier! And there are signs on the wall urging support for activists who are now in jail. I don’t remember that from my college years.

Technically this infoshop is called the Brian Mackenzie Infoshop, after a local activist who died while trying to make the place a reality.

Go check it out; smile and the folks there will smile back. It’s in the middle of nowhere, 1426 9th st NW (by P, I think) and it’s generally open noon-9pm Weds-Sun. Call at 202-986-0681 if you want to be sure they’re there before you come.

Divine Decadence

Judging by the crowds at the Y this week, everyone is deep in the throes of initial commitment to their New Year’s Resolutions. Sweaty earnest faces scrunched in the mental litany “I will lose weight I will” … it’s all so depressing, especially as I know from prior observation that the crowds will die down by the end of the month as one by one they fall off the resolution wagon.

So what about those resolutions to treat yourself better, eh?

My nightly walk to and from the Y brings me past ACKC: The Cocoa Gallery, the 14th Street newly opened branch of Alexandria’s Kingsbury Chocolates. This little red shop and cafe is exactly the sort of place I’ve been craving for my neighborhood. Rows of pristine artisan crafted truffles, stacks of exotic chocolate bars, and a cocoa bar.

Really, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but what I do have is a rampant winter obsession with hot chocolate. So the sight of people bellying up to a cheerful bar, sipping the divine indulgence with a variety of additions like chipotle, lavendar, orange – instantly pushes me over the resolution edge.

It’s a love affair that will last longer than the elliptical. And honestly (rationalization alert!), if you limit yourself to occasional indulgences, it’s better for you, right?

Spark Out

For more on the caffeine front: Sparky’s Espresso Cafe is no more. This is actually old news, but I was reminded of it last night when I picked up some cat food at Green Pets next door, seeing the cafe shuttered and chained. One of the first businesses to lead the charge of a clump of cool shops at 14th & S, the grungy little coffeeshop has finally fizzled out. I remembered when it opened how excited I was and later on how the promise of a chocolate chai or cappucino made my early morning crawl to One World Fitness more motivating. But then I’d noticed a steady decline in quality, service, and general atmosphere for a while, culminating in a night I was snarled at for incorrectly busing my cup and thought to myself “Ah, next time, I’ll head to 14U.”

There’s been a lot of speculation about the reasons for the closing – higher rent being a suspected culprit – so I asked the most reliable informants – their neighbors – if they knew what was up. Apparently it was taking a long time to get the alcohol license renewed, so they had to cut back on hours, which made them lose business, so they decided to pack it up and close for good. Who knows, the real reasons could be myriad. Suffice to say it’s gone for good, and a license application for a new place called “Cork” is up. My informant says this is rumoured to be a wine bar/cafe.

So from espresso to vino. Caffeinated grungy hipsters to – who? Social implications here? Or is it all economics – alcohol makes more $$ than caffeine? Interesting. In any case, I’m very curious to see how this wine bar pans out. It’s only a two block crawl home…

Does Ross & Marshall’s @ DC USA = Low-Rent Columbia Heights?

DC USA Construction

Over on the Columbia Heights listserv there is a flame-tastic email exchange going on over the revelation that the DC USA retail center might be leasing space to Ross Dress for Less now that Whole Foods has pulled out.

That somehow the addition of Ross to a retail mix that includes Target and Marshall’s, both discount retail chains, will bring down the mall and the neighbourhood.

Or in RJ Mauch’s words:

I think most people would prefer NOT to see Ross and Marshals. We need that like we need another damn CVS in this city. Enough unless you’re interested in experiencing a Silver Spring City Place disaster, because that is where this headed with all this dumping of low-end retail junk.

The fine citizen of Columbia Heights want DC USA, the multi-million dollar retail extravaganza in the center of their community to be uplifting and diverse as it was in the past. Or as Adam Aaronson says:

The issue is that we are getting retail that isn’t best suited for the neighborhood, and that much of it is redundant – all the banks, all the drycleaners, etc etc. Marshalls and Ross are the same store. I’m sure if Safeway or Harris Teeter opened up across the street from the Giant, the uproar would be the same.

But would it? Could this really be an issue of class? Of the socio-economic desires of a “transitional” neighbourhood to have a Logan Circle effect with DC USA? A transformation of image (and residents) from working class to high class through retail establishments? I think I have to agree with batboy8686’s conclusion:

The debate about Ross Dress for Less in Columbia Heights REALLY comes down to peeps thinking they could make 10% annually on a real estate investment.

You have a Starbucks. You have some condos that have presumably sold. The anti-Ross campaign really comes down to people thinking they were going to move to Logan Circle – no more, no “less”.


security guard gunfight and pot-smoking old men

So there I was, contemplating what to post about now that our server is back… I thought I’d write about the Walter Reed security guard who fired his gun… at the OTHER guard this morning, but then realized that there was no news about why he did it. That’s not nearly as entertaining as I hoped. But then I found something better…

Nathaniel Rabinowitz, age 60, of Logan Circle, has a two-story ladder attached to his house. Which wouldn’t be newsworthy, except apparently burglars have been using Mr. Rabinowitz’ ladder to climb up onto his roof, follow the roof to the neighboring units, and break into his neighbors’ houses through the skylights and steal their stuff- two of his neighbors have been robbed just this month. And yet, Mr. Rabinowitz refuses to remove the ladder, because he likes to climb up onto his roof and feed birds.

Oh wait, it gets better.

Blurring the Boundaries

The unnervingly direct stare of Jessie Mann penetrates the viewer. Take a few minutes in Adamson Gallery at 14th and P, and see what I mean. Titled “Self Possessed,” it’s a small showing of twenty-seven prints, on display until February 24th.

The photographs are the result of a partnership between Jessie Mann (as model, though in some shots you see her with a shutter release) and Len Prince (as photographer). The Post review touched on the show’s teasing the boundaries between photographer and muse, creator and subject. Having posed for a photographer in my day, I understand how the partnership can be more complex than “hold your head like this; look over there and think of something sad.” It’s really a covenant you are entering into with another creative person – “I will convey your message, but you will immortalize my essence” – there has to be absolute trust to create something that indelible. It’s a powerful bond that’s very evident in this exhibit.

Brunch at Viridian

There are several “new” restaurants that I’ve been wanting to try for so long that they are now no longer really to be classified as “new” – Viridian has been at the top of the list for a while and I finally had a reason to go today for brunch after a gallery visit with friends.

A few doors down from Studio Theater at the epicenter of 14th and P, Viridian takes advantage of expansive windows and clean mimimal decor to really fit into the gallery aesthetic that is fast taking over that once sad corner of DC. It has a sort of airy, upscale feel undercut by the artistic types wandering in from the galleries and the theater, a place where little old ladies in fur and tattoo-ed urbanites mingle peacefully. At least, this afternoon!

I’m not sure how well the seemingly vast space translates at night, but it made for a pleasant brunch experience, basking in the sun streaming in through those wide windows. There’s a good selection of classic cocktails to ease into your morning- Bloody Mary, Mimosa, Bellini – and a menu covering kicked-up basics like build-your-own omelet or vanilla french toast, then branching out into intriguing selections such as blue crab with grits or smoked trout sandwich. There’s an emphasis on fresh, local, organic – the new buzzwords around here of late in the DC restaurant revolution.

We were pleased with everything we ordered and happy enough to want to return to try dinner, but I hate to say the service, though extremely friendly, was a bit lacking on the uptake – it was by no means crowded and I saw more than one diner craning their necks around vainly trying to meet a server’s eye. One of our party had to wait quite a bit for her simple salad while the three others were served first, explained as due to “computer trouble.”

Oh well, we weren’t too annoyed due to the fact that everything was good, we were enjoying each other’s company, and it was a lazy afternoon. Nothing like art, alcohol, and breakfast food to detox from a stressful week…

The Danger of Intuitive Parking

I have a tough time wrapping my head around the signs that say when you can or can’t park somewhere. To me they’re all, “Blah blah blah Zone 2 even days no standing streetcleaning Tuesdays snow emergency fibblety foo callooh callay.” Instead I go with the crowd. Why read signs when I can let others do my thinking for me? I know if I can park somewhere based on if anyone else is parking there.

Friday evening I went to the Wyndham Hotel at 1400 M St. (where I’m told recently departed news legend Ed Bradley would joke with the staff by requesting the “Marion Barry Suite”). I pulled up just before five and right out front there were a handful of metered spaces available. What luck!

I was vaguely aware that there are parking spaces you need to clear out of during rush hour, and maybe it should’ve been common sense that numerous spaces that good wouldn’t be so easily available, but there were a lot of other cars parked there so, you know, safety in numbers.

I pulled into two free spaces and took the one in front. I got out and someone pulled into the one behind me, making me more confident that I was fine parking there. I went to feed the meter and saw that the space behind mine still had a bunch of time on its meter. I thought, “Oh fudge, I should’ve taken that space. Too late now.”

The guy from the car behind me, who reminded me of Ludacris, came to the meter with his change. I said, “You’re lucky, you get 43 minutes free!”

Hot Pads

Perhaps if Wayan’s couch guest is still looking for a place to stay, he should take a gander at HotPads appears to be a mash-up between google maps and wikipedia, offering a user-friendly at-a-glance look at available housing options inside the beltway.

Users can customize their search requirements by zip code, city, county or state, using a variety of variables. A quick Georgetown search turned up not a whole lot, whereas a quick search of my home zip code turned up two rental possibilities.

Looking for a roommate? You apparently can use that feature too, although it turned up zilch for me. This appears to be a great tool for relocation professionals who know naught about the new city they’ll call home. Doing a quick search of cities such as Seattle and Boston turned up a whole lot of useful information.

These three Notre Dame former college roommates moved to the D.C. area and created HotPads in early ’05, relaunching the site last month. The best thing about HotPads? It’s totally free.

Between HotPads and The D.C. Crime Map newcomers to D.C. can learn much more about prospective neighbours before they even put down a deposit. Say ‘sayonara’ to moving in sight unseen, suckers.

Need Wads of Cash?

How is this for fancy and cool technology in DC? A super duper automated teller machine (ATM).

This robo-ATM can dispense cash from 10 types of financial systems. You can pay major bills, Verizon advertises that on it. You can get or send money orders or cash checks even. You could probably withdrawal money in buckets, if you had that much.

Better yet, with 20 minutes and your ATM card I could even refinance Venezuela’s national debt.

I you wanna test run this monster ATM, head down to the 7-11 at 14th and Rhode Island Avenue. Just be sure to read the manual first, otherwise Chavez might be calling you the devil.

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