Monday, January 31, 2005

Figment of my imagination?

I thought there was a robbery at the Shaw Howard University metro stop this weekend of a male being robbed of his North Face Jacket. But I can't find a mention on the Post or Times websites. It is too early for it to be posted on the Crimereports websites. But I swear I saw it mentioned on the local news, but even on those sites, yesterday's news is not worth keeping up. Maybe I just imagined seeing it.

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Saturday, January 29, 2005

Who is standing out in the cold

This morning it was 20F again and silly me was out on the bike doing some grocery shopping. With 3 scarfs, 3 layers of shirts and jackets and two pairs of gloves, it wasn't half bad. I wasn't the only one one. The Latino men waiting for construction work on the corner of 15th and P were out standing around. They must really want to work! Also out by the Giant were Jehovah's Witnesses handing out literature or just standing there as they usually do. But no dealers spotted! Then again it might have been too early for crack.

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Friday, January 28, 2005

Beggars and such

This is my logic.
Draw three circles one for the homeless, one for the working poor, one for beggars, and have them intersect (is that the word I want?) with the other circles with between 5% or 75% of one circle in the other circle. And this is my logic, not all homeless are unemployed, not all beggars are homeless, not all homeless are beggars.
Last year I went on a tangent about giving to street beggars and making the point, you're not really helping the homeless when you plop a dollar or spare change in the cup.
First, not all homeless people, which includes homeless families, have been reduced to begging on the street. If you really want to help the homeless support the institutions that support the homeless such as health clinics, soup kitchens, shelters and other programs in the city such as Bread for the City, N Street Village, and S.O.M.E. Your handouts to beggars do nothing to coax people off the streets and into programs that with address their physical and emotional needs.
Second, not all homeless are unemployed. A minimum wage job in this city will have one spending more than half of one's pre-tax income on rent. Throw in our friend gentrification and other DC housing woes and you have fewer units that low wage earners can afford.
Last, not all beggars are homeless. Some are con-artists, some are begging to support a habit, a habit that makes my part of Shaw unwelcoming by supporting the drug dealers, and the liquor stores on EVERY OTHER CORNER!
As I said, you want to help the homeless, I mean really, really help the homeless, make their lives better, live longer to see another day? Give to the Shaw charity of your choice:
Bread for the City
Helping Hands (508 P Street)
N Street Village
Covenant House (okay not in Shaw but across the street)
Catholic Charities
But don't give money to beggars. The only thing you are doing is supporting a chemical habit and the drug economy in Shaw and encouraging begging in the area.

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Thursday, January 27, 2005

Run Fenty Run

Last night a neighbor came to me with a copy of an invitation she'd
received for an Fenty 2006 Exploratory Committee for Mayor fundraiser
hosted by Jim Graham and Phil & Jan Fenty for this weekend. Well I
don't believe I will attend but I will cut a check because of the
Council people even thinking of running for mayor, I'd pick Fenty.
Why not my Ward 5 councilman Orange? First, I am not holding that the
NW side of Ward 5 was nearly ignored by Orange against him. But I
don't know him well enough to want him for Mayor. Yes, I like the Home
Depot and the Giant across the street, very nice. I'm sure everyone in
the northern part of the city appreciates it, and would appreciate it
more if the Home Depot was decently stocked. Yet what about my Ward 5
needs? Has he addressed things that would make my day to day quality
of life? I'm not saying he is a bad councilman, no! He is a decent
Fenty, however, has been known to focus on constituent services and
get out to hear the needs of the people living in his Ward. Face it
I'm still in love with the man for banning single sales of containers.
Don't take much to make me happy. Look at the man's website he is not the main focus, his ward is. The site (compared to
seems more Ward 4 specific and designed to help those in Ward 4 and
geared to help his constituents find the information they need as
residents in the city who need services.
Well anyway if you want to attend the fundraiser for the Fenty 2006
exploratory committee it's 1/30/2005 from 4-6pm in Adams Morgan, call
202 263 4386. Or you can just send $$$ payable to Fenty 2006
Exploratory Committee, PO Box 7700, Washington, DC 20044-7700

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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Standing out in the cold

Took this picture this weekend when the temperature was about 20F. Notice the figure in the bottom left corner.
I just saw this guy, just standing there on the street. It's 20F f'ing degrees out. Who the heck just stands out in the cold like that?
There is the chance that he's just a normal guy waiting for a ride. Possible. He could be a dealer waiting for a customer. Just as possible given the block. Since I was trying to hustle back to the house, I didn't have time (or the will) to observe him for too long. I did think the scene was just not right so I snapped this picture over my shoulder.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Neighborhood Research: What I find plodding along

No. I have not found anyone famous. Of course, I am not looking for
anyone famous for that matter. What I am looking for are demographic
patterns of the NW Truxton Circle Neighborhood in 1880. The goal was
to do 1890-1930. Sadly, there is hardly any 1890 census as it was
burned, there is a 1880 census with addresses (the main thing that
allows me to focus street by street) and there are over a thousand
people to track each census year.
Anyway, just wanted to share one of my unexciting finds from the 1880
census. I keep finding Irish and German immigrants, or their crummy
children. I do find my clusters of African Americans but so far, and
I've only done a few blocks, we are a minority. Understand I had a
theory going in about the racial make up of Truxton, the data is
proving me wrong and I'm a bit miffed.
One of these immigrant or 2nd generation American families were the
Clarks of 406 Florida Avenue, NW. Headed by Cornelius Clark, clerk at
the S.G. (State Government?) Office, he lived with his wife Emily,
their 5 children, his 45 year old sister Margaret (dressmaker) and
their African American servant Henrietta Majors. The Clark parents
were born in New York but were children of immigrants as Cornelius'
and Margaret's parents were born in Ireland and Emily's father was
German and her mother Irish. Ms. Majors, their live-in
maid/housekeeper was of Virginia as were her parents. Given Majors age
at the time of the census (21) and her home state, I'll go as far to
say she may have been born a slave.
So far, off the top of my head the Clarks are the 3rd family I have
found in Truxton to have a live in servant. Typically it was just one
servant. I haven't found a home so grand in our area that there was a
need for multiple live in servants. The live-ins are recorded on the
census, those who went home after their shift were not recorded, so
there might be other households with servants but that information is
not recorded in the census.


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Monday, January 24, 2005

Where U At?

Yesterday I tried to make a map from the DC Gov site to figure out where different neighborhoods are. The picture on the side is of the different real estate assessment neighborhoods (tags are mine). I broke Old City 2, up into it's subneighborhoods because it is so big.
There is a funky way of adding neighborhoods but you can't get an outline of where a neighborhood is. You'd have to go block by block. In Old City 2 A the blocks above S Street and south of Florida are in Cardozo/Shaw. South of S, west of New Jersey is Logan/Shaw. But suprising to me Truxton Circle is east of New Jersey, south of Florida, north of New York AND (the surprising bit) includes the area on the other side of North Capitol.... according to the DC Citizen Atlas map.
Off the top of my head and skimming the newspaper databases, Shaw, as it was defined was the Shaw Junior High Urban Renewal Area. According to 5 Housing Plans Win Approval; 1,589 Housing Units Cleared Here by RLA in the Washington Post May 16, 1974. p. C1 areas in the NW side of Truxton are in Shaw.
Well that's enough for today, I'll investigate neighborhood borderline some more later.

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Saturday, January 22, 2005

Shoveling S***

I waited till the snow stopped before heading out. The snow that fell was light enough to attack with a broom. My neighbor B helped out as we shoveled and swept a wide path that connected 4 houses. A bit later, a new neighbor, who I don't know that well since he moved in when it started getting cold (I'll be all neighborly when the weather warms up), he shoveled more than a path, he shoveled the complete sidewalk for 2-3 houses.
Across the street the kids were playing in the white stuff, trying to get decent snowballs to whack each other with. As I said, this was light snow and not the weighty snow that makes for a really good snowball. Each throw resulted in the ball disinegrating in the air. They tussled in the snow, falling on what normally would be hard sidewalk, buffered by snow and several layers of bulky clothes. Playtime ceased when an adult figured this boundless energy could be used to shovel the sidewalk and clean off the family car.
I called a friend to figure out if I should try to go to church tomorrow. I played with the idea of trekking over to St. George's in LeDroit.
Looking outside at snow
I'm thinking 8:30 Mass for Shut-ins @ channel 32, 'cause I'm gonna stay shut in the house.

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This morning I was slightly awake already when the house alarm system went off.
I ran down to find my solid door slightly open. I checked the security door which was locked. After turning off the system I looked for the thing that set it off. The newspaper. The last time I was drawn out of bed due to the alarm going off was when the newspaper flew through the metal bars of the security door and hit the front door hard enough for it to set off the alarm.
Well there was no newspaper. And I'm just befuddled at what could have opened the door. The security door was locked and the alarm system works so I not really worried. But it did get me thinking.
When I bought my house, Sonny, the Nigerian who hires crackheads, and had worked on my house, was still on the block screwing up other houses for sale. Neighborhood gossip said that he still had keys for all the houses he had worked on and had entered one house unannounced and unwelcomed. Upon hearing that I changed almost all the locks on the doors in the house. Almost all. So I'm wondering, did I change that one on the door? Was I visited by Sonny the evil contractor? Anyway, I'll be visiting our friends at Home Depot or Logan Hardware to change the lock on the door.
Despite this I am still thinking of changing alarm monitoring companies. $32 a month is too much in my book and just to be the people who call the police, not like they're patrolling my house. I can get basic cable or DSL for that much a month, and I'd use it.
Change locks. Change alarm.

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Friday, January 21, 2005

Trying to imagine the future

I was going to complain about ice on the southern side of the 500 block of R street, but no.

I've been thinking about development. There is big development going on on the other side of the North Cap, over by the NY Ave metro station and smaller, more residential development on our side, in Truxton Circle. I've been trying to imagine what a future North Capitol (NE & NW) would look like. I've tried thinking of it in terms of watching one of those time lapsed films where the changes that take over a year or two are seen in a matter of minutes. If I had a camera facing North Capitol what would unfold in front of the camera?

In my imagination I haven't gotten a full picture, but so far I came up with a little something. The green and white bakery (can't think of it's name) gets a paint job, big open windows, tables and opens itself to retail shoppers. Some large piece of government owned property off North Cap disintegrates and in is place arises a mixed retail building with paid underground parking for the public. Signs directing people to parking appear along North Cap. On the NE side more large holes are dug for more paid underground parking for the employees of XM and the other office buildings and their visitors appear. Along sides of these parking garages appears more retail for the employees and residents of Eckington, Bloomingdale, NoMa and Truxton Circle. In my vision I see the neon lights for a sit down Chinese restaurant, which a little later is followed by the lights of another restaurant and a small bookstore. Traffic patterns change a the intersection of FL and North Cap. Oh boy is it a mess! Busses are rerouted and the crowds waiting for the bus are forced elsewhere while the construction is done. The gas station, the KFC and the other corner of FL and N. Cap are all taken out for the building of a small traffic circle.

What shows up in your vision?

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Thursday, January 20, 2005

Darth Day

I'm just going to avoid the mess that is south of me celebrating the great Darth Lord. Of course I did enjoy the firework display for a full 3 seconds last night, then I decided it was cold so I headed back into the house. I am really enjoying the day off. I can clean the house, do some more census work and curse the name of long dead Irish immigrants.
I have already shoveled my sidewalk. And my neighbors' sidewalks. Mind you I didn't do a good job on theirs because, they're healthy, they can shovel it. As an experiment this morning I tested the usefulness of table salt as a de-icer.

I used about 1/4 of a cup of Giant brand iodized salt and spread it around the neighboring sidewalk, where I had done some minimal shoveling. I went back in, ate a bowl of fruit loops, watched some really bad TV, and came back out and took a picture of the result. See people salt works. Any old salt. Even table salt.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Too cold

Okay today is supposed to be a tad bit warmer today. But yesterday, I couldn't feel my face. I wore the wrong shoes and thin hose and my feet were ice blocks.
The good thing about the frigid cold is that it prevents surly teens from hanging out on the corner. You know your block is bad when the dealers are still standing on the corner and it is 15F outside. I don't know how Truxton/Florida Park looks but it is cold enough that it should be wino free tonight. If it is not wino free then it is time to call the hypothermia hotline (800) 535-7252, so they won't freeze to death.
Also there is a snow advisory until 6pm today, Wednesday. I hope you bought your $8 shovels from Giant along with your bag of salt.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Logistics Question

1. The streets around Convention Center will be 7pm Wednesday till 4am Friday. Meaning no buses, no cabs, and as far as I know, that might include bikes and bicycle rickshaws.
2. The Mt. Vernon Square Metro will be closed from 3pm Thursday to 1am Friday. Meaning you can't metro to the Convention Center, or home if you live around there.
3. The Democracy Ball being held in the Convention Center's Ballroom and several rooms from 7pm to whenever.

Okay I gotta logistics question.
How are people supposed to get there? If people are going to try to get a cab I see all sorts of traffic evil tying up the Mt. Vernon Square roads that aren't closed to traffic. In my crystal ball I see a man screaming in Arabic to another man cursing in Hindi to move his cab, blocked by an older white couple in a Ford Expedition who didn't get the memo that there is no parking around because all the residents who normally park on the closed streets took up every viable and semi-legal parking spot they could find elsewhere.
As I see it if you take the metro to Gallery Place that's about 4 long blocks. In the cold. Provided that the entrance is on the Mt. Vernon Sq/K Street side. If people have any sort of walking handicap, as I've noticed people from suburban areas do, this will be a hardship.

Nora Bombay and I came up with the theory that the security plan was created by a Democrat because there is no friggin' way to get around and you force people on death marches to the parade area in the cold. Also you could be banned from bringing anything to make sitting through the parade confortable, like chairs. So the plan seems to be to make anyone who supports Mr. Bush, who isn't a billinaire with a limo, suffer.
I looked again at the Washington Post map in the Metro section and then had to pencil in some road closures for smaller areas and it looks like there is no way to get around the old city in a car. If your coming from the conservative bastion of Virginia, the only way to get into the city is via Georgetown and maybe 395 (wait a road that goes under the Capitol? Isn't that the greatest security risk EVER?).

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Neighbor in Discovery Channel episode

My neighbor is an architect and for whatever his reasons were he designed a garage for the Discovery Channel's Garage Takeover. This will air on the 19th at 4:00pm. I'm gonna have to have someone TIVO this for me as I a) don't have cable & b)can't break into my friends' houses with cable before 4.
When he was doing the job he hinted that the TV people were creating drama and conflict. Okay, can we have a design show without the fake drama? Anyway, Discovery Channel. January 19th. 4PM.

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Monday, January 17, 2005

Martin Luther King Day

Enjoy your holiday
Lift Every Voice And Sing

Lift every voice and sing, till earth and Heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou Who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou Who hast by Thy might, led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee.
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee.
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand,
True to our God, true to our native land.

Courtesy of the CyberHymnal
And for those of you totally confused by this post, the above is the 'Negro National Anthem' and it is my way of celebrating the birth of this great civil rights leader.

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Sunday, January 16, 2005

Truxton Circle houses for sale

Well two Truxton Circle Houses had open houses today.
1403 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Price: $485,000
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 3.5
Fireplaces: none
Basement: yes
Parking: Street
The house is being sold "as is" but apparently has been renovated. Things do look new. New white carpets, new paint, new fridge, new. The basement is finished and could possibly a rental unit, but the separate door to the outside was kind of small. The basement unit is a very tiny studio apt. Very tiny. With no appliances. A positive thing was that this place had light, and lots of it. Looking at the promotional material it says that "offers presented Tuesday, January 18." Is that another way of saying let the bidding war begin?

23 N St, NW
Price: 459,900
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 2
Parking: Off Street & gated
Fireplaces: wood burning stove and fireplace like mantles

Buy. This. House.
This house has character. The good kind. The woodwork in this house is *gasp* amazing. It is one of those must sees, that you really must see because the pictures I took don't do any justice whatsoever.
When I first approached the house I was unimpressed. It was too close to the busy section where N meets that street of DEATH, New York Avenue. The front door seemed small too. Also from the street there was a lovely view of Covenant House and if you squint you'd see the New York Avenue metro station.
Inside it was a little better but the first floor is not the wow you floor.
With it's homey dining room

and small kitchen.

The second floor is.

The second floor is where the wood work shines and is all over the place and makes you say yes this place has character. Now the house is currently occupied so I didn't take a lot of pictures out of respect for the occupants.
There is this center room lined with large wood cabinets or doors.
I have dreamed of rooms like this. It is functional and pretty. In a Shaker sort of way. If it were on the first floor it would be better as a mud room, but it is just far too nice for mud. The floor if I can remember right is tile and is very nice. Light streams in from the couple of skylights in the ceiling and just bathes the upper floors making it all warm and wonderful on this frigid day.
I really liked the bedroom with the loft (below).

I am a sucker for wood bookshelves, even as a librarian I know wood is bad for books. But here, who cares, it's pretty. It's warm. In the corner the unique stairs takes you up to the loft where you can have a separate area for reading or gazing out the window.
This "as is" house is very distinct and definitely not cookie cutter. It has a lot of original character (the good kind). If houses must sell in the $400K range then this house is definitely worth it, or at least a look.


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Neighborhood Research

It all began with my house. My house. The one they told me was built in 1900. Liars. I went to the MLK Library's Washingtoniana section up on the 3rd floor looking at building permits. I could not find a permit for my house. I guess no one bothered, or if they did it was lost to time. So I had to find another way of figuring out the age of my house.
The library has a resource guide (PDF file). Now I had already looked at the permits so I looked at the Baist, Sanborn and Hopkins real estate maps. Maps helped(see above). However they only go back to 1887. My house was on it so, well at least a brick house shaped like my house. So, my house existed in 1887, being 13 years older than I thought.
At some point, and now I have forgotten the true inspiration, I decided I'd try my hand at a neighborhood history. I'd look at the demographic changes of Truxton Circle from 1930 to as far back as I can go and see what happened. I bit off more than I could chew. I never got a real feel for how F'ing big the project would be. At some point it dawned on me that Truxton Circle had over 1000 houses, for each census year, with lots of people in each of the houses. That's a lot of work. So now I'm just doing 1880, when (I believe) the census started recording the street addresses and I am going block by block to make sure I have done everything.
If you wanna know about your Truxton Circle house you can e-mail me or comment in this post and give me the property square number and I'll try to give you the enumeration district. In the above photo you can see that the property square number for P, O, North Cap & 1st street is Square 616. With the enumeration district number you can look for your house on microfilm at the MLK. Or you can all wait till I'm done collecting my research.

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Friday, January 14, 2005

Crime & judgment

Today I decided to fool around with court report to see what crimes are being brought before the DC courts related to Truxton Circle.
1. Antoine "Cheese" Cooper of 431 R Street has been convicted of fatally stabbing a Mr. Jackson around 5th & R Streets on 11/30/2001. He's up for sentencing February 3, 2005 before Judge Robert Richter.

Guilty Please
Thurmond J. Christian of 1700 blk of 1st Street was arrested not too far from home 1500 blk of North Capitol May 4, 2004 for distributing heroin. Judge Diaz sentenced him to 30 months on 11/2/04.

James Ross of 1100 blk of Sursum Corda Court was arrested around the 100 blk of O St. and found guilty of possession of cocaine on September 11, 2004. 11/3/2004 Judge Fisher sentenced him to 180 days confinement, which was suspended, and 1 year probation.

Marry Nelson of the Unit blk of Bates was arrested around the unit blk of North Cap & FL Ave for distributing heroin May 18, 2004. Judge Diaz on 11/4/2004 sentenced him/her to 18 months confinement, supended, and 2 years probation.

Antonio Newman of 1700 blk of Benning Rd, NE, was arrested around the 300 blk of R St for possession of cocaine May 17, 2004. Judge Ross on 11/22/2004 sentenced him to 120 days confinement.

November 2004 Paper Arrests

1. Martin Tabron was arrested @ 4th and Richardson Place for possession of cocaine 11/8/04.
2. Donna L Hood was arrested for distributing cocaine @ 1st and O St.
3. Michael Bradsher was arrested for distributing cocaine @ the unit block of O St.
4. Scotland Tolbert (is that a real name?) was arrested for possession of heroin @ 100 blk FL Ave.
5. Leroy Wilson was arrested for possession of cocaine @ 2nd and FL Ave.
6. James Burton was arrested for distributing cocaine @ 100 blk FL Ave.
7. James Duckett was arrested for possession of cocaine @ 1st & FL Ave.
7. John T Brown and Jason Cannon were arrested for distributing cocaine @ 16 O St.
8 . Frank Gaston was arrested for possession of drug para(?) on the 100 blk of Bates.
9 . Aaron Wells was arrested for possession of marijuana @ 207 R St, Apt #4

Please note all this information was already available on the web so I'm not publicizing the names of anyone who wasn't already on the web.


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History research

I'm back to the on again off again neighborhood research. In the past week I have done 2 blocks for 1880 discovering some odd little quirks about the 1400 block of 1st St & North Capitol, Unit blocks of 0 & P Street. Now I won't have a fuller picture until I do the whole of Truxton Circle (which may be a while) but I found some lines of segregation on the blocks.
The 1400 block (even numbers)of North Capitol was the German-American street.
The 1400 block of 1st Street (odd) was the African American street.
The Unit block of O (odd) was German and Irish on the lower numbered end and Mullatoo (Black) with a few unskilled Irish on the other end.
The Unit block of P (even) from 10 to 64 P Street was mostly German with a few Irish and native whites. Then from 66 to 78 the families are African American.
I'll be doing one more block this week then I think I'll take another long extended break again.

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Thursday, January 13, 2005

What can you get for $400-$600K, pt.3

Last installment of the series of houses in the Shaw & LeDroit Park area.
I looked at 2 Urban Land Company properties. One I had seen before during the ULC tour where we all wound up at the Tobacco Factory (neither was a tobacco warehouse, nor was it ever a factory), was 444 S Street, NW.
Price: $499,500
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 2.5
Fireplace: 1
Basement: Yes
Parking: Street
The property is two units. You have your upstairs unit, where I gather the homeowner would live, and then the rental unit below. The upstairs is a teeny bit cramped but the normal sort of cramped for old houses like these. Unlike the Rhode Island house, this house looks like furniture is supposed to go into at some point and you can figure out how to get it in the house. The master bedroom has an alcove in it that almost says "put cathode ray tube TV HERE!" Where the bed goes and where the TV goes is very obvious. The kitchen is kind of small but if it weren't stuffed in the back it would invade into the living space. If any future owner wanted to he/she could knock out the current counter and push it forward to make the kitchen bigger. I really liked the windows of the front upstairs bedroom. They were big enough and low enough to plop my butt down and peer through the windows at the Post Office. S Street is active, but not as active as New Jersey or Rhode Island, so there is enough street traffic to make for decent people watching from these windows.
Downstairs is the rental unit. The rental unit is a big kitchen, a bedroom and a bathroom. No living room. My question was where do you put a couch? Bedroom? The unit about the size of some efficiencies I've seen, but the lack of a space that seems to say "living room" bugged me. Oh, well. We'll leave that problem for future renters.
1811 4th Street, NW was the other property.
Price: $479,900
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 1.5
Fireplace: 1
Basement: yes
Parking: Off Street
Unlike the other houses, this one has a lived in look as the current occupant apparently is still there. If I heard the agent right, they are trying to sell the house so the owner can move into another Urban Land property. This is a slight fixer upper, as it is obvious work was started in knocking out some walls but stopped. There are a few unfinished things. But maybe that is what is keeping the price lower than the others, that and you can hardly see anything for the owner's stuff.
It has 3 bedrooms. The 2nd and 3rd are connected and the third can be entered via the kitchen stairs. Otherwise, to get to the 3rd bedroom, one has to go through the 2nd. The basement looks finished and can be used as an office or storage. The house's main charming bits are the entrance and the rear (see above). Walking up to the house I fell in love, love which quickly evaporated after I got into the unfinished foyer. The rear is quite pleasant and seems like a great place for container gardening.


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Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Oh hell no!

Most of the time stuff happing down at the mall, down in the Federal part of the city has little impact on Shaw. But the ceremonies to celebrate the Great Darth Lord's continuing rule over the Empire on the 20th will make the roads around the Convention Center close. 11th Street between NY Ave and N, N Street to 6th St, and 6th to Mass Ave closed from Wednesday to Thursday. Will Darth Dubya be in Shaw? Why oh great Darth Lord why?


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What can you buy for $400-$600K around here, pt2

448 R Street, NW
Price: $449,000
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 1.5
Fireplace: 1
Parking: Off Street
Basement: none
I can attest that you can walk from the metro from this house, because if I squint my eyes I can sorta see the Shaw Howard University metro stop down 3 blocks. So there is some truth in advertising.
I've seen the on again off again work done on the house and I was slightly disappointed in the results of all that busy work. The floors were un-uniform, but that was due to the first floor being opened up. Nothing a bunch of oriental rugs couldn't cure. This is one of those cute "character" things about the house. One cool character thing is the wood burning fireplace, where one agent was warming herself. Yeah, oriental rugs, wood burning fireplace, and a coupla bottles of wine, good times.
The kitchen is small and acceptable. There really isn't a lot of counterspace, but there is the obligatory silver fridge, sleek looking stove, and dishwasher. But after having done my own tiny kitchen and squeezing more space out of it, I see what could have been. But what could have been may have added something to the price.
The bedrooms are small. The first one I saw was one of those bedrooms that would work out better as an office, or a baby's room or a guest room where you don't want the guests to stick around. You could fit a twin bed in it, but really it is very small. The second bedroom on one end of the house was bigger, but not big. As you can see in the photos there is some exposed brick. Actually there is a lot of exposed brick and it looks wonderful. As I remember on the first floor there was some shiny coating on the brick. Anyway, one of those cool character things.
Back to the bedrooms....
The master bedroom was as wide as the house with lots of light rushing in.
In all the bedrooms the closets small. As in the width of the door plus about 1/2 a foot. Not good if you have someone with a lot of clothes, shoes, ya know closet stuff. But them again, maybe that's what the small bedroom might be for.
Okay, is the house worth $450K? Well considering what the prices are, yeah, why not. As I said, oriental rugs, fire in the fireplace and a whole lotta wine and you can call it home.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Bates St Meeting 1/10/05

Please excuse my notes as my PDA decided to go on a tizzy and so I stopped taking notes after the umpteenth reboot. Also I don't have the agenda around so not everyone is being named properly.

First, female representative from Councilman Orange's office spoke. Orange is pro-baseball. Apparently, baseball will be great for the city, according to Orange. Also Orange is behind making Emancipation Day a holiday. Orange is for youth employment. Orange is on powerful committees. All hail the Orange!
Our dear ever so off topic neighbor (G-d bless him) Vance suggested bringing respect back to the penny to the female representative. Jim Berry, instructed our dear neighbor to write his concerns on a citizen form and he'll look at it. The representative then departed.
Next was Sgt. Mitchell from the 5th District. There were two shooting incidents. The night of the meeting, some cars were shot up and damaged and Sgt. Mitchell did not have any information for the group on that. The other shooting incident occurred 1/6/05 where a black female sitting in a vehicle was shot several times. The police need witnesses and if you know something that will help explain why she was in the area or anything about the shooting please call (202)727-9099.
There were other things mentioned and emotionally expressed related to the shootings.
Jim and others questioned Sgt. Mitchell about the police van that just sits in the neighborhood. What is it supposed to do again? According to neighbors, nothin'. According to Sgt. Mitchell it is supposed to act as a ministation. Oh, ok.
Somewhere in all this was mentioned writing letters to judges who, in this city, are easy on crime. The US Attorney's office has court reports listed for the 5th District so you can write the Judge before sentencing, I guess.
Lastly, on cops, if you see a police person asleep in his/her squad car, call 202-727-4495.
This is the point when my PDA died.
There was something about North Capitol Main Streets. If there was more to the meeting I don't remember.
Anyway Jim wanted a social period in the meeting, and I wound up chatting with my neighbors from down the street.

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Monday, January 10, 2005

Tenants Rights and Gentrification Booksigning Event, 1/21/05

as seen on Shawdc.comTenants Rights and Gentrification Booksigning Event, 1/21/05

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What can you buy for $400-$600K around here, pt1

The neighborhood hasn't completely gentrified. I'll know that we have finished gentrifying when I can get Pizza Hut and at 1 Sushi restaurant to deliver to my house. So with that in mind I ask, what can you buy for nearly 1/2 a million around here?
435 Rhode Island Avenue.
Price: $640,000
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 3
Fireplace: 1
Basement: none
Parking: Off-Street

Some of y'all know I already hated this house without even walking into it. Well there was an open house. I walked in. I still hate it. Someone else at the open wondered why would you build this when you were able to start from scratch?
The inside was odd. Very odd. First floor was fine, with a fire place and this little warm room off to the side with a low light fixture. Was that supposed to be a dining room? There looked like there was barely enough room for a table.

The master bedroom had two floors to it. There was the floor that lead out to the deck over the carport. The there was this other level that I couldn't figure out what it was for or what it did (see above photo). According to the Realtor's description it is a "skylit sitting room". And on that upper level there was this storage space, that was not tall enough to be a closet. It was just odd.
The house is advertised as being custom built. What does this mean? Well it is not like other houses, other houses might make sense. It just didn't seem clear who the house was built for. Some corners seemed tight. I overheard someone ask, how on ear are you supposed to get furniture up the stairs and where would one sit the bed? Imagining where furniture would go without blocking a door or a closet was difficult.

The upper deck we noticed some shoddy workmanship, fixed with paint and caulk. My companions also noticed that the floodlights seemed to be at an incorrect height.
It was a rabbit warren of rooms upstairs. Not everything was on the same level. Now I mentioned the master bedroom having two levels. Well even from the hallway one had to go up just a few more stairs to get to the master bedroom.
When it is an older house it is understandable when things are odd. You had to take what fate and chance gave to you and work with it. With a newer home you don't have that excuse. Yes, the lot was oddly shaped. But even so, what went on with the upper floors just didn't make any sense to me.. When the house was being built, I and my neighbor would pass it and I mentioned that I thought it was horrid. My neighbor figured someone was building it for himself. Yes, the house would make sense if someone built it to suite their own little quirks. But to sell? Something must have happened because the only thing I can say is that is it all very odd.
Well we also popped by a few other houses, but I don't want to make this post too long.

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Sunday, January 09, 2005

The State of the In Shaw Blog

Well I've been reflecting.
Nora Bombay started me blogging back in March of 2003. However In Shaw existed in 2001 before the blogging. Then I discovered that the blogging tools helped keep the announcement page current. If you look at some of my earlier posts, it is a mix of commentary and announcements. Then I separated the two. I figured I should be opinionated somewhere else.
Thank you to all of you who have read this blog and enjoyed it. I really intended the audience to be about 5 people. 'Cause really, who wants to hear me bitch about crack heads and what's going on in the alley? Yet in time I discovered (and the comments part brings it home) there are more than 5 people reading this blog. Through In Shaw I have met other bloggers, like Nathan, Jimbo, John and other neighbors and that's been neat.
I am a bit conflicted about the extra eyeballs the blog gets. I do like meeting neighbors and finding common ground. But I have been a little bit more self-conscious. I have toned down a bit as one never knows who is reading, and changed names to protect the innocent and non-crack smoking. And recently, around mid 2004 I started blogging almost every day. Will I keep up my current pace of blogging in 2005? I don't know. Will I continue to complain about crackheads? Well if they stay in the neighborhood, yes. And, given my mood swings, prepare for a string of compost & garden related posts as well. Don't care for the compost stories? Too bad.
In 2005 I hope to write more about small houses, like mine, businesses in Truxton Circle, the history in Truxton Circle (related to my work), gardening and maybe more open houses so I can see what the heck you get for your $300-$500K. I have accepted the skyrocketing housing prices, so fewer "real estate agents on crack" posts.
Lastly, since I have been blogging a new site has come up recently and will fill your need for news on this side of Shaw, TruxtonCirlce.Org. Started by neighbors Scott & Matt, it looks like what I wanted In Shaw to be initially. It is a neighborhood site about the Bates Street area, and hopefully with a fair number of neighbors chipping in with a story here and there it will serve the needs of Truxton Circle (eastern Shaw) residents.

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Saturday, January 08, 2005

The alley & a debate

Last week I raked up some of the fall leaves that settled on my end of the alley. I am wondering if alley cleaning man has forsaken my end of the alley because the opposite end is noticably cleaner. Fine, not like he was getting paid. Anyway, as I raked away my neighbors' de facto compost heaps I noticed that the concrete from the house under rehabilitation's patio settled in a little heap in the middle of our semi-brand new alley. This refuse concrete created a little dam hindering water flow.
When they first laid down the concrete and had the refuse and rocks in the alley I took a shovel and threw the fresh concrete and rocks back on to their side and out of the alley. I was angry because of the mess they left and because of allowing the potential for a small lake to settle behind my yard.
So I finding another pile of rocks and concrete, but now too late to remove it, I became angry again. Here we finally get the alley repaired and then this. Can't. Have. Nothin good. N** keep screwing stuff up. [insert Chris Rock's routine "Who you calling Racist?"]
So I am debating. My neighbor noticed that the house the leave -your-crap - in -the -alley contractors are working on doesn't have permits displayed. I wonder, when and if I should call them in. The reason why I haven't reported them already is because of pure laziness and forgetfulness with a pinch of wanting to wait till they have doors installed.
So when should I report them to DCRA?

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Friday, January 07, 2005

Oh Christmas Tree, o Christmas tree

...why are you still here after trash pick up?
Well hopefully today DPW, the folks who brought you the snazzy calendars, will pick up the evergreens on the sidewalk.
This is from the DC.GOV site:
Holiday Tree Collection – January 3-7, 2005
Residents who receive DC trash collection service are encouraged to put holiday trees—without ornaments—in curbside tree boxes by January 2, 2005. Trees will be picked up during a special one-week collection from January 3–7. Residents who wish to keep their trees longer should put them out at their normal point of trash collection (curbside or alley) after January 7. DPW trucks will then collect the trees with the regular trash, as space in trucks permit, over the following weeks.

If not, then I can take my time clipping pine needles for my compost bin to up the acid in it.

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Thursday, January 06, 2005

Truxton Circle up for sale

I'm not going to do this periodically, because y'all know how lazy I've been with "house of the week/fortnight/month/quarter".
There are several houses up for sale in Truxton Circle and there is one in particular that isn't but it's so fugly I'm gonna talk trash about it.

224 P St. NW @ $465K. Lists itself has being steps away from the NYAFAGU (New York Ave) metro station. Steps..... Is it me or do people who don't walk to the metro write this stuff up? Yeah, steps and crossing the road of DEATH known as New York Avenue. Anyway apparently new fixtures and what not have been done to this 3 bedroom home.
not far is
216 P Street NW renovated with 3bdms 1.5 baths @ $499K. Smart enough not to mention any metro stations and has an alarm system.
137 P St NW @$389K for this 3 bedroom 1.5 bath. Also claims being close to metro.
316 P St NW a 3bdrm 1 bath @ $345K is decently priced given that the seller claims everything that needs fixin' is cosmetic. Get some friends, buy some beer and pizza, believe me the inside will be painted in no time.
203 R St NW @ $499K for a 3 bedroom 3 bath, seems like a good deal, and I await to see what happens to the house next door. If you see the agent's picture there is a house next door undergoing renovation, it has cool iron work. Recently the workers have been going at a pretty good clip.
208 Q St NW $430K 4bdrm 2 bath. 2 units in one.
33 N St NW @ $400K. This 3 bed 1.5 bath "as-is" claims it is "convenient to metro bus & rail, grocery stores,restaurants, [and] new mci building". Define 'convenient'. Maybe bus and the unit block of N St is convenient to NYAFAGU, however the grocery store is 8 blocks up, the restaurants there are 2 in total, and the MCI center is in a totally different neighborhood.
1611 New Jersey Avenue @ $675K is a little bit overpriced for this renovated 3 brd, 2.5 bath with basement. Just a little.
1341 1st St NW @ $370K for a 3 bed 1 bath townhome.
1726 4th St. NW @ $440K for a 2 level (no basement as far as I can tell) 2 bedroom in my eyes is wrong. For one such sale will unreasonably jack up my property taxes. I don't doubt the goodness of it's features but something in the $350K range might be better. Also not too keen about the corner it is near.
1522 3rd St NW @ $600K is not only ugly but over priced. Yes it has 4 bedrooms & 2 baths and has been renovated. But note the 3rd floor addition. It doesn't work with the surrounding houses. For crimes against decent architecture the house should only sell for $350K-$400K. I don't doubt the work that has gone into the house, but no. I've talked trash about this house before so some of you know my pet peeve with this property is nothing new.
1406 3rd St NW,@$475K 3brdm 1.5 bath a stones throw from Dunbar.
1430 3rd St NW @ $350K 3brdm 1.5 bath. Cheaper. Smaller. Different.
234 N St NW *condo* @ $325K is the cheapest thing house or condo right now with 1 bedroom and 1.5 baths.

Not in Truxton Circle but so ugly I gotta say something is 435 Rhode Island Ave NW priced at $640K. It is totally new construction built from the ground up so one would think that something nice would get built on the lot. Well they would be wrong. Logically this house SHOULD be lovely with it's large windows and open space interior. It just doesn't fit. That and it's bent at an angle. Not a crime against architecture like the 3rd St house, but should be priced at just 1/2 a mil because it just looks wrong to me.

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Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Be careful of what you wish for....

The citizens of Wards 8 & 7 have sent a message that they want the good that has been happening to the rest of the city to come to them. Well I got a question for them, do they REALLY want what has happened and is happening to Shaw, LeDroit, Eckington, and other north of the river neighborhoods to happen to them? I know they want the good, but what of the bad? What of the growing pains?
The growing pains I'm thinking about is gentrification. I think the citizens of Ward 8 are mistaken to believe the development/gentrification genie that has been working it's magic in NW parts of DC can be controlled. Never, ever, underestimate the power of market forces. If an area is made attractive enough for enough urban pioneers with the financial power to jack up housing prices, private developers will get wind of it, fix up some places and start a snowball effect that will only help homeowners planning to sell. Twenty one percent of Ward 8's homes are owner occupied. Would the 79% of renters be able to ride the higher rents and deal with owners cashing in on better prices? I think some would, but there are plenty who would not.
The solution I have heard floated around is to have developers build affordable housing, or set aside units for low and moderate income families. Listening to what has been going on with Arlington, VA it seems easier said than done. Then there are the developers who work on a smaller scale, one house at a time or a small number of units, who have little incentive to sell at lower prices.
Maybe if the real estate values weren't so crazy and there wasn't this housing pressure that forces people to live all the way out in BFE not-even Northern Virginia gentrification wouldn't be an issue. But then again, it is the crazy housing pressures and gentrification that is making places like Shaw more attractive.

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Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Small space composting

You Grow Girl: Gardening for the People Saw this and had to throw it on for those of you thinking on small space composting on the cheap.

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Why I live in the city

Crime, bad schools, a government that doesn't seem to work, blah, blah, blah, blah.
I live in the city because I wanted to not have a bad commute.
I live in the city because DC made it easier to buy my home.
I live in the city because it is easier to get around to Maryland and Virigina.
I am close to learning opportunities, cultural events and other high minded stuff I am too lazy to leave the house for. But should I sum up enough energy to drag my butt out of the house it is not that far away.
I live in Shaw because it has 3 metro stations, has many bus lines and in theory I can walk to the Greyhound bus terminal and Union Station. In theory. On a warm sunny day.
I live in Shaw because I could afford it.
I live in Shaw because of its history, because of Duke Ellington, and its past as a Black neighborhood.
I live in Shaw because, despite what you see from the inside of your car at 30-40 mph it really is not that bad.

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Monday, January 03, 2005


Jimbo this is for you.
Okay folks a little something somethin' about cabs and the city. First DC is split into zones. I think of them as 4 zones that are then split into smaller ones, but the subzone split is meaningless and only serves to confuse, so there are just 4 zones.
Please open another browser and use this link to the DC Taxicab Commission and find the zone map or open the PDF file of the taxicab map at this link. You may recognize this map from the back of a dark cab when you couldn't make anything out to save your life. Lucky you this is your chance to see the map and figure out where those friggin zones are.
Most of Shaw is squarely in Zone 1. Zone one is from Florida Avenue and U Street and Florida again, down 2nd Street NE, then E Street and Constitution after 17th St, and then 22nd Ave NW on the west. If you stay within these borders, your fare is $5.50, tip whatever you want.
Some of you are on the otherside of Florida, that puts you in zone 2 and paying $2.10 more. If you are cheap like me and your starting point or destination is 1 or 2 blocks near or on the border, you move or stop short of crossing over. So when I'm in Dupont Circle or Foggy Bottom I make sure I catch a cab on 21st St. when heading back home.
Now I am so cheap I have only once traveled more than 2 zones, and that was a long time ago so past two zones my judgment is iffy. I gather that if you travel from zone 2D in Capitol Hill over to mainstreet Georgetown in zone 3A then your base fare is $11.40 because you might travel through zone 1 & zone 2A to get to your destination, traveling through 4 zones. Anyway the maximum that one person picking the cab off the street could be charged (not traveling during rush hour) is $17.20 if traveling through 8 zones. I've played with the map the max appears to be just 8 zones. You can play with the fare calculator and see what you come up with. There are other add ons. Each extra person is $1.50. Rush hour is 7-9:30AM and 4-6:30PM and that's $1 extra. Calling the cab will cost you $2.00 if they bother to show up.
Now that you have the map, study it, use it, it will come in handy when arguing with the cabby.

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Sunday, January 02, 2005

Snow shovels and ice melt

At the Ghetto Giant there are snow shovels for $8 and ice melting products for $4. Prepare for ice and snow. Also stock up on TP and I believe you can freeze milk.

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Saturday, January 01, 2005

Lesson learned

Never go into the Whole Foods store between 4-7pm on a holiday or the day before the holiday. Just as bad as trying to get mixed paint at the Home Depot on a Saturday.

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