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February 6, 1996

The Flat Head Society

Dear Neighbors:

Here are two quick hits and then on with the show. Goethe House. I didn't mean to leave out your events. I know you are on this mailing list somewhere but I can't find you or your message. Please send help. There. I feel better now.

Also, for political junkies who know a flat tax from a flat head screwdriver, the Washington Post, ABC News, and Digital Ink have combined forces to buy out Microsoft. Don't we wish. They have launched a great website covering the election. Since we'll know the Republican nominee is just a few short weeks, you might want to check out this site right away. Hey, don't you want to know if Steve Forbes wears silk boxers or silk briefs?

Jeffrey Itell


I had an experience which might be helpful for the (perhaps many) D.C.Driver concerning registration renewal. My own registration was due to expire Jan. 6, 1996. I did not receive anything by mid-December, so made some calls and followed the instructions--sending in a xerox of my registration with a check for renewal. In spite of the clear expiration date on the forms, I eventually (not till after the deadline) got back a renewal dated in December and some '96 stickers. Now I already had '96 stickers since the registration expired in January and needed '97. Meanwhile, the official renewal letter came. I won't bore everyone with the details, but eventually I got them to send out "Dec" stickers and lost a month, but am legal for awhile. The above is not the helpful part. The following is the helpful part: As you are all probably aware, the automated motor vehicles messages don't cover these sort of problems. Further, even though there are options to get an operator, the system does not allow for that. After many, many calls, I got some phone numbers where a person answers. The person who was somewhat helpful was at 202-727-0817. Other numbers to try include: 202-727-1159, 202-727-4760.

As another aside, I suspect the renewal was late because of D.C. in part but also because of our mail delivery which seems to be of the random variation school of distribution. We get as many letters for others as for ourselves and I must assume others are getting a fair share of our mail. Another story involves my attempts to improve this situation and eventually I was put on the postal service's "Accurate Mail Delivery Program." I asked what program everyone else was on, but the person did not seem to capture the humor in the question.

Good luck to "D.C.Driver"



As has been well documented, the D.C. government bureaucracy is bloated. Exacerbating this problem is the unwillingness of the powers-that-be to get rid of those who violate the public trust. Witness the recent case of Karen Jones Herbert, Chair of the Taxicab Commission, who (as reported by The Post) held valid drivers licenses in both DC and MD. When brought to the mayor's attention, he feigned the expected outrage and, according to Councilmember Thomas, indicated his plans to replace her--but only after he had identified another position for her! Enough, already. This musical chairs routine is precisely the type of "management" that has brought the District government to its knees. Unlike the average citizen, city officials who thumb their noses at very laws they are sworn to enforce are simply moved out of the spotlight. Instead of getting a pink slip, as their behavior dictates, they continue on the public payroll at their lofty salary grade. How much longer can the city endure this blatant cronyism at the public's expense?

Ralph Blessing


Since I was among the first to bitch and whine about the pathetic snow removal during the blizzard let me be among the first to acknowledge a marked improvement this go-round. My meaningless little section of Oliver Street (between Nevada & Broad Branch) was plowed on Saturday afternoon.

I recognize that the "storm" didn't compare to the "blizzard"...but it took 10 days to see a plow the first time and 30 hours the next. Not too shabby.

Greg Pryor


I was astounded at the efficiency (yes, efficiency) of the city's snow clean-up from the February 2-3 snowfall on my block (3700 block of Oliver Street). I woke up Sunday morning to find (to my utter shock) that some city employee had plowed our street. Imagine my further astonishment when I was driving home, north on Connecticut Avenue, Sunday night following two snowplows who turned onto our block of Oliver Street and both plowed it again AND SPREAD SALT DOWN THE WHOLE BLOCK. In my four years living on this block, I had never previously seen any evidence of any city snow plow. Was our block singled out for special attention? Did some city employee mistakenly believe a city politician lived here? Did others have a similar experience?


Specifically to Carole Schiffman and generally to anyone who spends time/ hangs out/gawks/spends big bucks in Tenleytown: According to Joe, the owner of American Valet who knows everything about the neighborhood that you never thought of asking, a Borders will move into the old Hechingers abode as soon as that sorry-ass excuse for a store moves across the street. Great news, obviously. The bad vibes are, again according to Joe, that there will be the ominpresent Starbucks will invade the space formerly occupied by the late and unlamented Dunkin Donuts. The alley to Fresh Fields from Wisconsin will become about two meters wider, the better for the Starbuckers to stand and wait for liquids you can do leaner, meaner, faster, cheaper in your very own kitchen. Latte grande, anyone?

Willie Schatz

[I reported in one of my final editions that I thought Joe might be wrong about Borders...but right about everything else. My best informed guess is that Barnes and Noble will take over the Hechinger's spot. (Big difference, I know.) My reasoning: Barnes and Noble announced that it was placing three stores in the District. The first store is in Georgetown. The second, I assume, goes downtown. And the third in Northwest. I checked several months ago and there was no done deal. Anybody have any recent news? jeff]


As long as we're discussing people who live in D.C. but pretend they live elsewhere, why not go straight to the top? The President obviously lives in the District and has the District as his main place of employment.

Neither George Bush nor Bill Clinton owned homes outside the District. Yet Bill pays taxes to Arkansas, and George didn't pay state income taxes at all because he claimed to be a Texan and they don't collect any.

Why hasn't Barry thought of this one? It's a sure-fire moneymaker, what with a victim who can't legally leave town until he's asked to....

Helpfully yours,

stephanie faul


I got one of the famous $100 tickets on Friday morning for being parked on Conn Ave down by the Mayflower. The weird thing was that there was almost no snow that day (it was 12:30 when I was given the ticket) so I was of course shocked and more to the point -- pissed! So, how do we residents know when a snow emergency is in effect? I was in the exact same location yesterday, lots of snow and ice, people parked in the snow emergency lane - no tickets being given out. What's up with this? I'm definitely going to contest this sucker.

Wanda Klayman


I'm a Tenleytown resident who thinks the new Fresh Fields is the best thing that's come to the neighborhood since the Metro, but I couldn't help feeling distinct twinges of envy last week when I checked out the new Bread and Circus in Glover Park. It's huge and beautiful, has a sit-down restaurant and a juice bar, sells beer and wine, and tends to stock a greater variety of just about everything. It also had sweet onions, which I regard as a sort of benchmark item for yuppie-food excellence. I do think FF has a superior selection of prepared foods, but they're definitely being outgunned in the bulk foods (especially bulk bakery items) department. Prices at the two stores seem pretty much comparable. Until B&C gets a traffic light installed, parking there will be something of a pain, but if you're already in the neighborhood it's definitely worth a look!

Lorie Leavy


Dear Jeffrey: Your piece on Dave Clarke's snow removal bill was funny, but I think the bill itself is a good idea. It doesn't make sense for DC to have all the equipment it needs to handle 2 feet of snow, when it only gets 2 feet of snow once in a generation -- just as it doesn't make sense for DC residents to have engine block heaters in our cars when it only goes below zero once every few years. In both cases, it would be a poor use of resources -- very scarce resources, in the city's case.

But when it does snow, it makes sense for the city to be able to mobilize a resource that it does have -- manpower (no sexism intended). The snow would get shoveled, people who really need income would earn money, and the air would not be polluted by diesel fumes.

So what if that's a "third world" way of handling snow? Sometimes I walk or bicycle to work, just like people in the "third world." Does that make me a laughingstock, because I don't commute in an air-conditioned BMW?

Art Spitzer

And then I said... [I'm not arguing that the district should prepare for a two foot snowfall. That's when you call in extra contractors and take an extra day to shovel out. They should prepare for the median snow fall--just like Metro and highways are built for median peak traffic but not the worst traffic days. No need to spend extra money.

I object to a work program for the homeless, people in halfway houses, etc. Shoveling is brutal work and homeless folks are not prepared for it. (Many are dually diagnosed.) I think it's demeaning. I don't believe work is demeaning but backbreaking work is. Further, I don't believe the city could manage it competently. I truly believe this city couldn't get the shovels for the workers.

But more important is my major problem. Given an extra $5000 to hire a plow truck or hire 100 people to shovel, I'd go with the truck anytime. The truck will move a lot more snow, which is the objective. If you don't need to move the snow, then you don't need the homeless to do backbreaking work. Would you create a jobs program for the homeless to crush rocks into pebbles for the hell of it.

I'm all for bike commutes. (Dad owned a bike store.) Actually, I believe in walking as much as possible. But if I'm making $50/hour, I don't walk to appointments unless I have spare time in my day. I lose productivity. I'm paying for leisure. But if I'm making $1/hour as people do in a lesser developed economy, then I walk to work.

I can be clearer with this point but I think you get my drift (so to speak). jeff]

And then he said... You're certainly entitled to "print" your rebuttal. Actually, I think your rebuttal is a lot more serious and persuasive than your original piece.

I don't think snow shoveling is demeaning. I do it. You do it. Homeowners in Georgetown do it. If some homeless people can't do it for physical or mental reasons they certainly shouldn't be forced, but others would be happy to do it. And it shouldn't be limited to homeless people -- there are plenty of unemployed or underemployed people who are fully able.

As for moving snow, in some places a plow is obviously far more efficient. In other places -- sidewalks, narrow streets -- a truck may be useless.



[I asked Sam Smith, editor of The Progressive Review, a native Washingtonian, and longtime local activist to post these remarks, which he had originally faxed to me. Though lengthy, I think they are a good jumping off point for a feisty discussion of the District's dilemma. You can reach The Progressive Review (1739 Connecticut Ave, NW, Washington DC 20009) the following ways: Tel: 202-232-5544 Fax: 202-234-6222 jeff]

How to get DC moving again By Sam Smith

1. Stop listening to the people who made the mess in the first place. This includes the mayor, city council, the Board of Trade, the Federal City Council and the Washington Post.

2. Stop listening to people who don't have a plan. Besides the aforementioned, here are some other people who do not have a plan: Newt Gingrich, Tom Davis, James Walsh and the Control Board.

3. Figure out what the DC government should look like five years from now. Use this organization plan to determine which current jobs are necessary and which need to be changed or phased out. At present, there is no such plan.

4. Once a reorganization plan has been devised, use attrition, transfers and retraining as the major tools for achieving it. An orderly reduction in the government based on an explicit goal will be far more successful than the current system of ad hoc and panic layoffs.

5. Remember that reducing the size of the government will produce no more revenue: Budget slashing not only cuts expenditures it demoralizes taxpayers. Much of what is going on in the name of a balanced budget -- such as gross deficiencies in the police, fire and public works departments -- will dramatically reduce the ability of the city to produce new tax revenue.

6. Find new organizing principles for the city: DC has a terrible reputation; any renaissance depends on building a new image. Here's one idea: develop DC as the black & green capital of America -- the center of African-American culture and commerce and the country's most ecologically- oriented urban community. It has a head-start in both regards and not too much competition. Here's another idea: develop DC as the major city for amateur sports of all kinds. Such goals would provide a meaningful and indigenous focus to economic development activities instead of the unimaginative copycat approaches of the past.

7. Develop the edges of town rather than downtown: A Walmart on the edge of Prince Georges' County will do the city a lot more good than another department store downtown. Besides, the welfare fathers of the center city need to be taken off the dole.

8. Let communities make their own plans. After decades of disastrous top-down planning it's time to start community-based planning. Neighborhoods should start drawing up their own plans after taking a community inventory of physical and social assets and problems. Together these plans can describe the sort of the city we want.

9. Bring folks together to discuss why they still like DC. What is the DC idea?: DC is constantly treated as a problem. Why not some forums to discuss why DC is worth saving? What are the values of the people of this city? What do we love about the place? You can not save a city in which no one is allowed to express concern and enthusiasm for it.

10. Give budgetary authority to neighborhood commissions. Neighborhoods need flexibility in working to compensate for city hall's mistakes. ANCs should receive spending authority over their proportionate share of one percent of the city's budget. In a community of 20,000 that would be over a million dollars that could be spent the way the community wanted.

11. Make DC General and the health department the HMO for DC workers. Here's a way of rapidly improving public health care while cutting expenses and saving DC General.

12. Devolve school spending. Establish community school boards on either a school-by- school or community-wide basis and fund them directly.

13. Name deputy mayors for each ward and give each their share of the city's budget and personnel to manage. Bureaucracies don't grow just by providing more services, but because they need more coordination to keep themselves running. Mitigate the problem by dividing it into manageable pieces. Besides, this way we'll be able to compare different approaches to city problems.

14. Treat DC workers as federal employees. Congress is trying to have it both ways. We have home rule when it comes to pensions and snow removal, but are a federal agency when it comes time for the budget. In fact, DC workers are really federal employees and should be entitled to the same benefits as their colleagues at the Defense or Labor departments. The fact that they do not receive these benefits -- including funded pensions and transfer rights to other federal jobs -- is an unconstitutional form of discrimination -- given the fact that one major difference between DC and other federal workers is that the former group includes a much higher percentage of blacks. A class action suit and/or mass individual discrimination claims could force the federal government to take responsibility it has so far avoided. The potential of such an approach can not be underestimated, for if the federal government treated DC workers as its did its other employees, it would have to take the multi- billion dollar pension liability off the backs of DC citizens . It would also allow the city government to down-size with far less pain, as workers could be moved to other federal slots.

15. Demand a fairer shake from Metro: Metro was not designed as a transit system but as a land development system. It worked, taking business out of DC (to places such as Tom Davis's district) and allowing suburbanites to conveniently exploit the city without paying any taxes. The amazing thing is that DC even paid billions for this dubious privilege --including unused federal highway funds. It's time to put an end to the Metro rip-off and demand a fair transit shake for DC.

16. Stop wasting tax money on sports arenas and convention centers. If huge projects could save DC, we would be fat city today. Instead, these projects have drained capital away from needed investments and towards projects that largely benefit a handful of powerful interests.

17. Provide a fair federal payment representing tax revenues foregone and local services provided the federal government. This would mean at least $200-300 million more a year.

18. Build nothing that doesn't include housing and shops.

19. Press just long-range goals. Don't listen to people who say they are not practical. If these folks had been around earlier in American history there never would have been a revolution, emancipation or women's suffrage. Some things take a long time. Besides, pushing for these goals reminds everyone of the underlying injustice of the current system. Therefore DC should have: o Statehood o A non-resident income tax. There is especially no excuse for DC tax dollars directly subsidizing Maryland and Virginia as is now the case with DC government workers who come from the suburbs. o Fair taxation of trade associations that hide under non-profit status while lobbying for the nation's profit-making corporations. o Fair taxation of Fannie Mae and similar exempt corporations

20. Bring the leadership of the neighborhood commissions together to deal with city issues: Contrary to the myth , there is nothing that prevents ANCs from coming together. We need the collective thinking of these neighborhood-based groups. Their deliberations deserve foundation funding.

21. Release from prison, and stop arresting, all minor drug offenders and others convicted of crimes without victims. Tens of millions of dollars could be saved and crime could be reduced by ending the futile and unconstitutional war on drugs.

22. Finance civil courts by a tax on the corporations that use them. At present, the citizens are subsidizing large corporations in their disputes with one another.

23. Provide a tax incentive to local businesses that hire DC government workers, thus helping with the downsizing of the local government.

24. Provide significant tax relief to new business enterprises employing less than 50 persons.

25. Stop beating up on small businesses. Eliminate levies like the sports arena tax and reduce the regulatory load on small business.

26. Don't vote again for anyone currently in office. Okay, let's allow an exception here and there, but as a general rule they've screwed up enough already.

27. Start a recall drive against the mayor and city council. The mere existence of such a drive would attract national attention, clearly differentiate the people of the city from leaders who have failed or betrayed them, and encourage these leaders to respond to grass root solutions to the fiscal crisis. A well-organized recall movement could be the most effective leverage citizens have to use on their politicians.

28. In the alternative, start a reform movement and find someone to run for mayor. One of the problems DC residents have now is they have no alternative movement or voice behind which to rally against the forces ruining the city.

29. Borrow all our money from the US Treasury for as long as we remain a creature of the federal government, thus saving the city the higher interest costs of Wall Street.

30. Come up with your own ideas. Use this list or ones like it to spark discussions at your church, ANC or civic association. Let your politicians know what you want to happen.


More Bad ASCII Art

[I don't know what it is and Bob won't tell me. Any guesses? jeff]

                         /      ()        /
                    o       o

Bob Mendo


More Trivial Pursuits

Well, I probably shouldn't participate, since I work for the Post. I just checked out the story in our electronic clip file. The error: Chandler did not write 10 novels. I feel rather anguished about that. I was asked to read through the story before it was printed to check for factual errors! Wow, did I miss that blooper!

Anyway, I think Chandler wrote seven, but I have a sneaky suspicion I'm leaving out one or two. (I'm writing this from work, and don't have my Chandler library close at hand, so let's see how well I did):

(Not necessarily in order, but close, I think)

The Big Sleep Farewell, My Lovely The Lady in the Lake The High Window The Little Sister The Long Goodbye Playback (his last)

(He also had written the first four chapters of "Poodle Springs" when he died. Robert B. Parker (author of Spenser) completed it. It was not very good.

(Chandler also wrote a number of short stories that have been collected in several volumes (with some overlap in stories). "The Simple Art of Murder" is the best known.)

The Chandler story was in Style.

So tell me, how did I do?

Evan Roth

PS Here's a trivia question for you: What did Chandler originally name Philip Marlowe?


Dupont: 2nd Chance. Two at the Williamsburg. Largest 2BR/2BA with super upgrades. Crown molding, French doors, slate entry, and largest 1BR. Both with super views.

Cleveland Park: Tudor Contemporary. Fabulous in-town contemporary in the heart of Cleveland Park. Soaring ceilings, private roof deck, unique master bedroom suite. Garage + parking for 3+ cars.

Cleveland Park: The Broadmoor. Large 2BR/2BA with super entertaining space, just steps to Metro, restaurants and shopping. Grand old world, full service building.

Crestwood: Charm + Elegance. All brick colonial meticulously kept by the current owner. 5BR/3.5BA. Den/study on the main level. Rec room on lower level. 2FP's. The perfect in-town residence.

Forest Hills: Never Before. First time on market! Custom-built by current owner. 5BR/3.55BA, 3FP's. First floor family room, lower level rec room w/wet bar. Double corner lot. Just waiting for you magic.

Woodley Park: Perfectly Priced. 2BR/1BA in small condo just steps from Metro, restaurants and the Zoo. Perfect for 1st time buyer or investor.


February 18. A representative from Capital Camps will be discussing Jewish camp programs for children and teens at the DC/JCC on Sunday. To RSVP call 301-468-2267 or email to

Jewish Teen Leadership Camp is for selected campers who will be entering grade 10 in 1996-97. Application deadline is February 23. Call 301-468-2267 for information and application or email to


The Textile Museum is open seven days at week (Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 p.m. and Sundays from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.). Admission is free with a suggested contribution of $5.00

The Textile Museum Current and Upcoming Exhibitions

Quilt National: Innovation & Impact September 29, 1995 - March 3, 1996 While early quilts were created to provide warm and decorative covers for beds, the quilts in this exhibition are more likely to provide visually stimulating and thought provoking hangings for walls. Thirty stunning contemporary quilts from the eighth biennial of the Quilt National exhibition organized by the Dairy Barn Cultural Arts Center in Athens, Ohio have been selected to illustrate the use of the quilt form as an artistic medium.

Baluch Rugs from the Boucher Collection October 13, 1995 - February 25, 1996 Baluch Rugs from the Boucher Collection presents 19 woven saddle bags, rugs, and covers dating from the 19th and 20th century drawn from the pioneering collection of Colonel Jeff W. Boucher. Curated by DeWitt Mallary this exhibition illustrates the diversity of weaving called Baluch, and demonstrates the artistic potential possible with the fine weaving, saturated color, and remarkable wool.

Women's Costume from Chimaltenango, Guatemala February 2, 1996 - June 2, 1996 The Textile Museum's important collection of indigenous Guatemala weavings is the basis for this exhibition. Sixty-one textiles, primarily women's upper body garments known by their Aztec name 'huipil' from the principal weaving villages of Chimaltenango are displayed. Dating from the turn of the century to the present these colorful huipils, skirts and belts are testament that weaving is still a living art form in highland Guatemala.

The Textile Museum Calendar of Events ­ February through March 1996

February 7 Eastern Hemisphere Curatorial and Conservation Consultation Wednesday, 11 am - 1 p.m. Members: free; non-members: $5

10 Art Quilt Express Family Festival Day

Saturday, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

"Come Doodle with Me" Myania Moses leads an art quilt square workshop for adults; pre-registration required 10:00 am to 1:00 pm

"Freedom in Fabric/Freedom in Stitches" Judy House leads this expressive workshop for adults; pre-registration required 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

10 Rug Appreciation Morning: "Potpourri," David Zahirpour *(Audience invited to bring samples.) Saturday, 10:30 am

17 Textile Appreciation Morning: "A Quilt Artist and Her Work," Joyce Martin Saturday, 10:30 am


The End


Jeffrey Itell Publisher: dc.story

Tel: 202.244.4163 P.O. Box 11260 Fax: 202.362.1501 Washington, D.C. 20008-0460

"For People Who Live Inside the Beltway... But Outside the Loop."


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