Friday, December 29, 2006

P.O.P. air travel tip #1

Don't open a tin of yogurt at 35,000 feet in a pressurized cabin. It explodes. Not just all over you but all over the people sitting next to you. And you have to fly with these people for 3 more hours. It is very awkward. Trust me it is not worth it.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Here doggy, doggy

I'm walking to the metro like I always do when I spot a very typical sign stapled to a tree. "Lost dog". Ok, nothing wrong with that but this was was a bit special. Now, I love dogs and fish too for the record. But this sign had a picture of the dog that was lost and it was a doberman pinscher posed in the most viscious manner. It had its ears cut and it's tail cut and it looked like pure muscle with its back arched in some sort of attack mode. Now, the point of this post, if I run into a doberman pinscher looking like that on the street with no leash and no owner I'm running the hell away. Sorry. Now to make things worse, and I can't possibly make this stuff up, I saw another lost dog poster that was a tiny Shitzu a few feet away posted on another tree. Now all I can say is that I feel bad for that Shitzu. If that Doberman runs into that Shitzu I think it would merely be an hors devours. Now I really do love dogs and I hope that they both are found. On another bizarre lost animal note - I noticed in the Post last week that a leapord had escaped its cage at the national zoo. So all in all I suppose I'd rather face a doberman than a leapord. Long live Petworth!

On a totally unrelated note - I saw Thievery Corporation at the 9:30 club and I am still left with jaw hanging and feet tired. That was the most badass show I've seen in years.

Merry Christmas to all.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Well I had my blinker on

First of all- I am ok. The airbag didn't even deploy. This evening on my way to interviewing Renee Bowser, I got into my first proper car accident but really just a glorified fender bender. Except in this case the fender was my door. Damn. Missed the interview. Sorry Ms. Bowser, I'm afraid we're going to have to reschedule. I was making a left turn and didn't see anyone behind me and wham, I got hit. My drivers side door got bashed in and the side mirror cracked off but all in all not so bad. However, the woman who hit me who by the by had a scratch on the front of her minivan was taken to the hospital. I hope she is ok, but the cops seem to think she was just a bit shaken up.

As for the cops, God bless them. They were out in full force. I'm telling you. There were no less than 4 cars, 1 horse-I'm not kidding here, a horse, a real horse- I guess in case a riot broke out when the folks realized that the Prince of Petworth was involved in a stupid car accident, 1 firetruck and 1 ambulance for essentially a fender bender. Both cars in the accident were able to drive off and no airbags deployed so had bad could it be? Anyhow I genuinely do hope she is ok. Thank God no one was seriously injured. As for Geico damn, they grilled me, but I guess I deserved it. As for the cops- man if we could get a few less cars to respond to minor accidents and a few more to patrol our streets... One officer did regale me with the accident he got into last week- I guess he was trying to make sure I didn't feel too bad.

I did get Mano Negra's greatest hits today so all is not lost. Except for that damn deductible...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Introducing Mr. Tony Towns potential Ward 4 Council Candidate

I had the good fortune of sitting down with Mr. Tony Towns and one of his sons on December 12th. As with all the candidates so far Mr. Towns was dressed sharply in a suit and was bald. Interesting note: so far all of the candidates have been bald - Larry David would be very happy.

Mr. Towns not only is a life long resident of Ward 4 but Mr. Towns currently lives in our very own Petworth. He attended Shepherd elementary school and graduated from Woodrow Wilson High in 1979. Currently Mr. Towns is a trial lawyer and has been so for the past 15 years. Prior to that Mr. Towns was an attorney for the government (National Drug Control) and he also clerked for Judge Reggie Walter at the DC Superior Court. He attended Morehouse College, received his law degree from Georgetown and an LLM from Temple University. Some impressive bona fides if I do say so myself.

Mr. Towns had volunteered for a councilman while he was in high school and he was adamant that this is the only elected position that he has ever wanted to hold. However, he was an ANC commissioner some years ago. Mr. Towns is married and has three children (James Jr. Jonathan and Joseph). I had the pleasure of meeting James Jr. I must add here that James Jr. was probably the most well behaved 11 year old I've met in a long time. James Jr. was polite, articulate and had a very pleasant demeanor. At the very least Mr. Towns is an exceptional father as was crystal clear upon meeting James Jr.

Education
Mr. Towns' top issue is improving the public school system. He said that he definitely has a vested interest in the issue as his children are all school age. Presently Mr. Towns is very active in the schools and understands some of the problems they are facing. He has spoken with many teachers and he saw the lack of school supplies although the teachers all said that the biggest problem was a lack of parental involvement. Mr. Towns suggested that we come up with programs to give incentive to parents to get involved in their children's schools. He doesn't believe it is realistic to make such involvement mandatory because that is not realistic. But one thing we can do, according to Mr. Towns is give basic parenting classes . Regarding Mayor-elect Fenty's plan on taking over the public schools - Mr. Towns said we can't keep anything off the table but he'd need to see the plan first before further commenting.

Public Safety
When Mr. Towns first moved to Petworth there were drug dealers all over. Yet he remembered as a child being able to bike all over the city and he lamented the fact that his children were unable to do the same. Mr. Towns suggests that we need to increase community policing. "The police need to get out of their cars and get to know the people", said Mr. Towns. If the people get to know the police then when they see a crime and speak to the police it will not seem like "snitching", said Towns. He further suggested bringing back D.A.R.E. and bringing police into the schools to demystify them to the children. Another thing that could help according to Towns was developing work force programs for the kids so that they will have jobs when they graduate. He also suggested bringing back vocational schools and if that would not be possible then at least offering vocational courses in the already established schools.

As for police cameras, Mr. Towns said that they are on tool that can be a deterrent but they are not a panacea.

Neighborhood Pride
"I've seen folks with Maryland tags dropping trash out of their cars" according to Towns. We need to enforce stiffer fines to discourage this behavior. He also recognized that there are plenty of culprits who live in town and that they should be forced to pay fines as well. If the young kids are the culprits then the police need to crack down on them as well, if not with fines then with an alternate punishment. But Mr. Towns believes that we need more recreation centers for the kids so that they will be properly occupied.

Old Soldier's Home

Mr. Towns' uncle was a resident there for years so he got to know the home quite well. He even helped set up Thanksgiving for the residents this past November. Mr. Towns recognizes that the Home is one of the last green spaces in NW Washington and therefore much of it should be kept as a park for the community. He suggested that some of these lands could be paid for with grants but I was less than convinced that he had fully thought it out. He did show passion for keeping the land green I'm just not convinced he knows how to make it happen. Admittedly he did say the topic needs to be further studied.

Homeless Shelter on Georgia Avenue
Mr. Towns is empathetic with the plight of the homeless but believes the area has already done much for social causes therefore he would not back the move but would help find an alternative space.

Gentrification
Mr. Towns explained that both of his parents came to DC from elsewhere to attend Howard University but they stayed and became part of the community. So he doesn't believe it is an issues. Rather people simply need to take ownership of their communities. He said there is nothing wrong with change if it is positive change.

Georgia Avenue Development
There is no reason why Georgia Avenue shouldn't look like Connecticut Avenue said Towns. He does believe that the area could use a few more restaurants, in fact one of his clients was bringing one to the area. Mr. Towns explained that he loves living in Ward 4 and he gets offended when he has to go to Maryland for a restaurant. "Anything we need we should be able to get on Georgia Ave." said Towns.

Community Service
Mr. Towns wanted to let us know that has a strong background in community service starting with his time at Morehouse college. It was there that he was taught to give back to the community. As a result Mr. Towns has been active with Midnite Basketball, hayride food drives, volunteers to coach football, and has worked with the boards of charter schools. Furthermore he has kept his children involved as well "since they have been able to walk."

For Fun
Mr. Towns is reading "Game of Shadows" about the the Balco scandal.
He is listening to the Ray Charles Duets album.
He last saw the film Idle Wild.

James Jr.'s favorite subject is math and his favorite sport is football.

In Sum
I have to admit I was a little skeptical of Mr. Towns when we were setting up a time to meet because the he wasn't always the quickest to reply to emails. Well, now I understand why. Mr. Towns is extremely active with his children, with his community service and with his job. For the record if Mr. Towns wins the election he will devote himself full time to the council position. Unfortunately it was clear that he was a novice politician. He lacked a certain finesse but more than made up for it with his passion for Petworth and all of Ward 4. I think if you are looking for an untraditional politician then you may have found your man. However an extremely important question remains - would he be savvy enough to know how to work the system best for Petworth and all of Ward 4?

You can visit Mr. Town's website at www.tonytowns.com

Gonna find out how blue steel feels

Yikes, Washington City Paper is reporting that three armed robbers robbed the Wonderland Ballroom in Columbia Heights Friday night at 9pm. Apparently, this is normal because it is Christmas time. Double yikes. www.washingtoncitypaper.com

Monday, December 18, 2006

"I am homeless come and save me"

Just in from the Washington Post: But is it enough?

"An organization seeking to build a homeless shelter in Northwest Washington is planning to substantially reduce the beds at the proposed facility to try to assuage neighbors opposed to the project. David Treadwell, director of Central Union Mission, would not specify the size of the decrease, but he said the number of beds could fall from 170 to as low as 100." www.washingtonpost.com

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The housing boom is dead, long live the housing boom

I couldn't help but notice how few houses sold in Petworth the last few months, as listed on the Petworth News blog. But what I did notice was that the 15 houses all sold in the high $300,000s to high $400,000s. Some even noted that the shell on New Hampshire and Upshur sold for well over $400,000, a shell, now that is crazy. I am however, seeing a lot of houses on the market for a lot longer. So what's the deal: has the housing market crashed, how come the houses that are still selling are going for so much?

In related news, the Kojo Nmandi show on WAMU had an interview last Friday with the head of the Central Mission Shelter that is supposed to be moving to Georgia Avenue in 2009. You can go to WAMU's website and listen. Frankly I didn't find it too interesting but he did mention that it's current location of 14th and R used to be horrible before it arrived so maybe it won't be such a catastrophe.

Stay tuned for Ward 4 Candidate interview Tony Towns coming out tomorrow evening.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Fenty's comments on Muriel Bowser

From Washington Post chat Nov. 30th, 2006

Adrian Fenty: Thanks for the support and I intend to be as engaged and service-delivery oriented as Mayor in Ward 4 and the other 7 Wards as I have been as Councilmember. Right after the election, I had a conversation with ANC Commissioner Muriel Bowser where I encouraged her to run for the position when it becomes vacant on January 2nd. I think Commissioner Bowser brings the same tenacity for constituent services and community-focused leadership that can keep the great momentum we have in Ward 4 going. Commissioner Bowser's intelligence and aptitude will be a great asset to the City Council as they shape policy and budgets for District residents.

Are you talking to me?

The following took place a couple of weeks ago: I'm walking home from the metro listening to Amadou and Mariam, having an uneventful time of it. So I cruise by the all the nice houses decked out in Christmas lights, I favor the white lights for the record, and all is swell. So I make my turn off of New Hampshire Ave and all is good until I get to my house.

I'm really rocking out now doing my best to sing along in French with Amadou and Mariam (a really good African duo influenced by Manu Chao) when a guy jumps out from nowhere while my keys are literally in the door. So I turn around and, and... I froze. I was so stunned and oblivious, just totally taken by surprise. I mean it was ridiculous. I always thought I'd have a Robert DeNiro moment and say "are you talking to me?". Suffice it to say I reacted in just about the exact opposite way - I just stood there with my mouth hanging open, thinking Oh God this is it.

So, he actually says to me "don't worry I'm not going to rob you." Whew well that is a relief. I don't know you tell me, when I guy jumps out of the bushes right in front of your house, how do you react? I fucking froze. Sorry, I repeat myself. So the guy who is clearly homeless pulls the whole "hey I don't have enough money to get on the metro scam." I must have a certain look because this has been used on me at least a dozen times. Ok, I'm sure at some point people really don't have enough money to get on the metro but I live like a half a mile from the Metro! Incidentally, what brutal increase WMATA is contemplating.

Anyway, so there I am keys hanging out of the door, ipod blaring, and this homeless guy asking for money. Ready for the anticlimactic moment? Well, I gave him the change in my pocket and he left. But it is bullshit. Because I wasn't prepared, because I was taken by surprise, I simply didn't react at all and as a result I felt intimidated and powerless. What if I had said no? I guess I really do just read the Metro section to often. What I would have liked to have said was, "what the mother fuck are you jumping out of the bushes at 7 o'clock at night, you bastard!?" Now, listen I was raised properly I give money to charities and to the homeless for that matter but at that moment I felt like I had no choice.

Now, what if I told him to fuck off? He knows where I live etc. etc. So I gave him the change in my pocket but he took a lot more than the change in my pocket. So where does the real tragedy lie? I no longer listen to my ipod on my walks home. I mean I am one alert mother fucking panther when I walk home now. Which sucks, because I loved rocking out to my tunes on the walk home. This is the price we pay for being cautious and living in the City I suppose. So my warning to all, this could have been a lot worse, it was a reality check wake up call for me - be alert on your walks home. Don't be oblivious listening to your ipod or talking on the phone or you'll get surprised and I can assure you it is not a pleasant feeling.

Monday, December 11, 2006

A note about Ward 4 Candidate interviews

To those concerned that I may have ulterior motives I wish to reassure you that I am doing these interviews on my own free time and as of yet I do not support any candidate. I simply saw an opportunity to help Petworth learn about the potential candidates. I have remained anonymous because I have not decided where I am taking this blog. I have however, recorded all the interviews so that if you have more questions please do not hesitate to contact me with your concerns. Many thanks.
P.O.P.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Hipsters in Petworth?

"HIPSTERS WHO fled Mount Pleasant and Columbia Heights to
take refuge in the Georgia Avenue corridor in recent years are being
followed up Park Road by construction equipment..." according to yesterday's Washington Express.

Mmm, yeah I think I saw a hipster at the Hitching Post drinking a Pabst beer just the other night.

Are there hipsters (present company excluded) in Petworth?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Run from the border

As Homer Simpson might say: Taco Bell - the cause and solution to all of life's problems. With this in mind I thought I would treat myself to my standard T-bell fare - two meximelts and a nachos supreme. It is the small things in life that make it special. Alas the Taco Bell on 14th Street can sometimes be a less than ideal experience.

So I'm waiting on line to order the meal I would probably order as my last meal if I were on death row and I'm getting giddy with anticipation. Unfortunately, the cashier did not share my joy. Instead she is yelling at whom I can only assume must be the manager. She is adamant that she is not going to plunge the toilet. And I have to admit I sympathized with her. I can only imagine how horrid the toilet in Taco Bell on 14th Street must be.

So the manager leaves and the cashier and I have a heart to heart, we discuss all the reasons why she is not going to plunge the toilet. I admit that this is less than ideal banter before ordering dinner but I do believe the manager was being a jerk, so I fully supported her decision.
I finally ordered my dinner and I was already imagining that first bite when things seemed to have hit a snag. My comrade, the cashier, took my money, ordered my food and then promptly went on break. Unfortunately nobody was there to give me the order.

I saw the food sitting on the table just taunting me. But no, the woman who makes the food, very nicely by the by, does not give it to the customer. The cashier must also give the food to the customer. Well, it felt like a curb your enthusiasm episode. I'm standing there, staring at my food on the counter, listening to the cashier in the back talking about not plunging the toilet... So I'm thinking to myself - do I hop the counter and grab my food? I mean I already paid for it. No, I just sit and brew. And five minutes later I got my food and ran from the border.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Introducing Mr. T.A. Uqdah - Candidate for Ward 4 City Council - First in a Series

T.A. Uqdah
Last Wednesday evening I had the pleasure of sitting down with Mr. Uqdah and his wife and campaign manager Pamela Ferrell to discuss Mr. Uqdah's run for Ward 4 City Council. My neighbor and Domku bartender Joe was making fun of me for pretending to be a journalist when Mr. Uqdah and his wife arrived. Mr. Uqdah had a presence about him that allowed me to recognize him immediately even though we had never met. Mr. Uqdah, dressed impeccably in a tan suit, is a tall man with a magnetic personality that makes you feel like you are in the presence of a TV star, a professional athlete or a, well a politician.

Although, as I was to learn, Mr. Uqdah did not come across as a traditional politician littering our conversation with campaign rhetoric, rather Mr. Uqdah comes across as the exact opposite, frankly he is a passionate person with an engaging personality and with some bold and somewhat controversial new ideas, if not the most politically sophisticated ones. Clearly there is no Greenberg and associates feeding him polling data behind the scenes here. Nevertheless, Mr. Uqdah seems to be brimming with confidence and charm. The fact that Ms. Ferrell was able to join us was an added bonus. Ms. Ferrell was about half the size of Mr. Uqdah with very serious eyes that exuded intelligence. So we sat down for a half an hour interview that ended up lasting one and a half hours. Mr. Uqdah had the mussels and a black coffee while Ms. Ferrell had a specialty tea and apple pie.

Mr. Uqdah is a lifelong DC resident who attended public school in DC and now lives in the Brightwood Park or 16th Street Heights neighborhood of Ward 4. He is 54 years old and the father of two young children. He has lived in Ward 4 for the past 26 years and he previously ran for city council, unsuccessfully, in 1992. Currently he is a businessman, he and his wife own and run Cornrows & Co. hair salon on 14th Street. In addition to a businessman, Mr. Uqdah, is a community activist, volunteer and lobbyist for a variety of causes. Although he seemed most proud of his efforts working with community youth as well as working on efforts to beautify neighborhoods in Ward 4. When asked why he was running now he replied "the opportunity presented itself."

DC Public Schools
Mr. Uqdah supports in principle Mayor-elect Fenty's plan on taking over the school board, however, he will first need to see the plan in full before he will make a final judgment. Mr. Uqdah presented some unique ideas as we discussed the DC public school system. DC should consider establishing more vocational schools to teach our youth practical skills that can help address the City's future needs. He offered the teaching of elevator and escalator repair as an example. Secondly, and a bit more controversially, Mr. Uqdah stressed the need for more parental involvement vis a vis their children's education. He suggested an admittedly radical solution to make the parental role a mandatory one. When I inquired further as to what exactly he meant by mandatory he alluded to the fining and/or incarceration of parents if they failed to fulfill their roles. Now what exactly their roles are to be aside from attending PTA meetings was not completely flushed out. Nevertheless it was refreshing to hear a point of view that included the importance of parents in the successful education of their children.

Mr. Uqdah's children are currently home-schooled.

Garbage on the streets
"Consider legislation that would make an additional tax for carry out restaurant orders" Mr. Uqdah boldly suggested. This additional tax could then be used to fund additional cleanup crews. But to get at the root of the problem Mr. Uqdah believes that this issue must be addressed in DC public schools. "The kid need a civics lesson," he said. Couple that with more garbage cans on the street and you can make a dent in the problem. Mr. Uqdah hopes that if the children are educated to take pride in their community they can then transfer this pride to their parents and guardians.

Crime
Cameras will not solve the problem according to Mr. Uqdah. Rather we need a revised community police effort. This effort will allow Ward 4 residents to get to know their neighborhood police officers just like many residents know their mailmen/women. When I asked Mr. Uqdah who his mailman was he answered without hesitating. He also told me where his postman lived and when his birthday was. It was very impressive. Mr. Uqdah said he can train people to do what he has done successfully: cleaning up neighborhoods, working with troubled youth, even getting a dysfunctional mental health home removed from his neighborhood.

In Mr. Uqdah I saw a man who practices what he preaches. But my concern is that many of his answers worked on a small scale but I question whether they can work on a larger Ward wide scale. It was not clear he had fully thought out the obstacles to translating his personal experiences to a Ward of over 50,000 residents.

Gentrification
Not an issue according to Mr. Uqdah. The best way to get people to integrate into their neighborhoods is simply to get out with your kids or your pets and meet and talk with your neighbors.

Georgia Avenue Revitalization
We need more restaurants, bookstores, flower shops, bistros, watering holes, we need all of those things according to Mr. Uqdah. This was music to my ears. Although Mr. Uqdah does not believe that the government should dictate what type of stores must go in certain locales. Let's let the market take care of that, said Mr. Uqdah.

Proposed Homeless Shelter in Ward 1 on Georgia Ave
We need to create a program to transition the homeless not simply to shelter them temporarily said Mr. Uqdah. The people running the homeless shelter must give real assurances that they will have ultimate accountability for the shelter he said. When pressed if he supported the specific shelter in Ward 1 off Georgia Ave, he said he would not support its move from the U Street area.

Old Soldiers' and Airman's Home
"In a perfect world I'd like to see really affordable housing" said Mr. Uqdah. He tweaked Mayor William's wish that DC attract 100,000 new residents, rather Mr. Uqdah would like to see DC attract 100,000 new families. The key to that success, according to Mr. Uqdah is affordable housing. Mr. Uqdah did not mention anything about the need for public green spaces.

Books, Music and Movies
Mr. Uqdah is currently reading a book on Martin Luther King's leadership style by Donald T. Philips.

Mr. Uqdah is listening to a CD by John Legend.

As for movies, Mr. Uqdah reminded me that he had two little children and mentioned something about the wheels on the bus going round and round.

In Sum
Mr. Uqdah is someone with a real passion for the City and for Ward 4 in particular. He has adopted the successful green colors (his campaign literature does feature a photograph of Mr. Uqdah in an unfortunate combination of light green turtle neck sweater and green felt hat but this is not a fashion critique) from the Fenty campaign, and most importantly he is not afraid to speak his mind. I have no doubt he would be a passionate advocate for Petworth.

You can visit Mr. Uqdah's website at www.UQDAH44.com