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July 13, 1997

Cheap Demagogic Comparison?

Dear Neighbors:

To demonize or not demonize the mayor? Is that our question? Our discussion seems to be pondering that question. Here’s somewhat less than two cents worth of thought.

Demonization is hardly a moral strategy because it’s prejudicial. Human standards are certainly different than those applied to wood nymphs, satyrs, and...well, I’m a little short on my demon list at the moment. Moreover, demonization has often been interchanged with comparisons with the devil. Demons are pagan, the devil is religious. When you start comparing someone with the devil, it’s won’t take long before...well, before all hell breaks loose.

Demonization also isn’t an effective strategy because it’s so easily refuted. Well, maybe it wasn’t so easily refuted back in Salem, Massachusetts, but it’s easier now, here, in Washington. It’s one thing to say that Mayor Barry lies about his record. It’s another to say he’s the source of all evil in the city. Sticking to the facts makes a more persuasive case.

Not that Barry makes it easy. Yolande Woodlee wrote in the District Weekly that newspapers misrepresented Barry’s comments about DC being safer than Topeka, Kansas. Barry was referring to comparison of the two downtown areas, a comparison that apparently cannot be verified. Barry has spoken vaguely in the past, as if willfully seeking an erroneous press report so he can claim the papers were trying to "demonize" him. Or am I just demonizing him?

Let’s face it. The man’s running logical rings around us. He’s an awfully clever man. Otherwise, I’ll keep my mouth shut. Or I just might have to resort to the "Devil Made Me Do It" Defense."


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Jeffrey Itell


The Mayor Learns from the Masters

Stephanie "Would never stoop to drawing cheap demagogic comparisons" Faul

In claiming that D.C. streets are the safest in the country, Barry reveals his true mentor: He has obviously been re-reading "Mein Kampf." In that work the author remarks that "Die breite Masse eines Volkes...einer grossen Luege leichter zum Opfer faellt als einer kleinen." Or, for you non-Teutophones, "The broad mass of a nation...will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one." He’ll probably start re-reading "The Prince" next, and who knows where *that* will lead.

While we’re on famous sayings, "Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one." The above-mentioned author would have shut this discussion group down in a nanosecond and guillotined the perpetrators, as he did with the brother-sister team who published "The White Rose." Keep up the good work, Jeff.


Barry IV
Marcos Wilson MarcosWilson@InternetMCI.COM

I confess to being amused by all the recent comments about Barry IV, but enough is enough folks. Sure, it is tempting to poke fun, point out shortcomings, and even demonize the guy, but lets not be distracted from the fact that in the divided field of empty shirts we call mayoral candidates, he wins hands down. What we need to be doing instead is to develop the guts to give NEW blood, new ideas, and fresh approaches a chance. The anti-Barry focus should be replaced by the pursuit of a vision for the city and who would best lead us in that shared view and direction. To be reelected, Barry needs our contempt and our fears. Don’t play into his hands.


Humorless on Earth
Rob "standard disclaimers" Pegoraro

Did anyone happen to see portions of a press conference on CNN shortly after the "Sojourner" space toy "woke up?" The NASA Project Director, giddy with excitement, described a particular rock in the pictures like this: [laughing] "This rock here [he points to rock] looks like some kind of old couch. Maybe some homeless people have been up there and left it." [more laughter] My jaw dropped when I heard this comment on national TV and NOBODY seemed to notice. It was disgusting, really. Are we supposed to be excited because we can spend billions of dollars to send high-tech toys to Mars, but we can’t provide the most minimal shelter, food, or health coverage to all our citizens? And on top of that, have to listen to some self-righteous, ignorant engineer make jokes about the fact that some people are homeless??

First of all, the Mars Surveyor project cost $267.5 million, not "billions of dollars." The number’s been printed in the papers many times. Second, wonderful job of criticizing somebody for being "self-righteous, ignorant" as you judge the character of said individual by one sound bite on TV. Third, I have a hard time imagining how anybody can live around here and not develop a sense of humor—cynical or otherwise—about this place. How can you laugh? Hell, how can you not?! Sometimes, it’s the only sane response.


Homeless on Mars or DC, Same Solar System Different Planets
Joseph R. Poisso

With tangled beard and haggard eyes, I haven’t bathed in nine long weeks. Don’t have a clue why no one will talk with me. Right in my face they slam the door, because I don’t shave, wash or brush. I have personal pride. I have style, on that one can trust. High class ladies dressed fine, hurry past giving me quarters, giving me dimes but if I look mean, dollar bills, even fives. If they don’t give me money, or take some time, in my back pocket there is a little something: a cool, long, slow, sharp, slice. All that talk is just so much jive, important stuff is cigarettes, the fix, the wine.

Had a few jobs through the years but crazy bosses wanted me working before lunch without beer. Try hard, I do to be once on time, just don’t take orders good and sleep until noon. I could go down to the CCNV, Salvation Army, Jewish or Christian Charities but those are for suckers, I don’t stand in line, not me. City Shelter or Mercy Sisters have clothes a plenty. Food banks and soup kitchens, some churches have several. I don’t go near their rules and schedules, lights out at ten, breakfast at seven, no cigarettes, drugs or booze ever. Uppity folk turn me down. Just wait till darkness, we’ll see who owns this town. Some woman will walk alone, near some bushes, alley or trees. No moment to worry about baths and shaving then, my night, my park, my trees. Maybe tomorrow I’ll stop this throb, amble off to a low rent position, or better yet, beg a few cigarette wine dollars and thumb my nose at do-gooding snobs.


Home on Mars
Jeff Porten

I’m hoping that I’ll be one of a torrent of response to R.J. Fox’s comment about our spending "billions of dollars to send high-tech toys to Mars" .First off, get your facts straight. The mission to Mars is running in the range of $230 million, which makes this one of the biggest bang for our buck science programs in recent years.

The argument that we should solve our problems at home before venturing into space is as shortsighted and close minded as the argument that we should spend not a dollar on world issues until the USA is the land of fruit and honey. Without NASA experimentation, monitoring, and research, we would know far less about any number of global threats, including global warming, and depletion of farm soil and food production. Noting that Mr. Fox has posted from AARP (currently opposing a $5 copayment in Medicare that will cost far more than the Mars mission), it’s been suggested that a moon colony would give senior citizens a century from now the opportunity to add decades of fruitful life span in a gravity 1/6th that of Earth.

Of course, these only answer the basest of human questions, "what’s in it for me?" More important is the question, "what’s in it for humanity?" The limits to economic growth and human prosperity are real only so long as we limit our natural resource base to that of the Earth. How much more can we accomplish in 1997 than we could in 1897? What can we foresee in 2097 — colonies on the moon and Mars, mining the asteroid belt? None of that will occur without laying the groundwork now. Simply put, space is humankind’s destiny and birthright — and our intelligent exploration there will undoubtedly be the solution for many problems here.


Bottle Bill & AOL
Alexis Gentile

Bottle bill? D.C. is better without it. I live in Boston now and have to contend with it. It doesn’t do much to clean the city and because people search through public trash cans to find bottles and cans, it often causes a mess. And don’t forget, we are paying EXTRA for bottles and cans in this Bottle Bill Town. The money you receive for returning your bottles and cans was your money to begin with. It is called a deposit. Curbside pick up is a much better solution.

As for the call to end AOL bashing, I called AOL today to report the trouble I was having sending and receiving messages. They told me that their server was broken and they weren’t going to fix it until the end of July! Maybe they have fixed their busy signal problems but they have a long way to go. I think we should bash away!


The Levine School of Music
Martha Saccocio

The Levine School of Music is moving to Upton Street. The renovation of the old Carnegie Geophysics building is well underway and appears to be on schedule. The school is scheduled to begin classes there in September.


Bella Roma
Leila Afzal

Phil Greene asked if anyone has been to Bella Roma yet. My husband and I went last week. I was going to write in then, but since our experience was not positive, I had decided against it. But now that you have asked.… First, Bella Roma has to decide whether it’s a sports bar or a restaurant. We wanted to eat at a restaurant, but the constant drone of the T.V. from the adjacent room was very distracting. I am also a non-smoker that can’t stand to be in a restaurant with smoke, there is no no-smoking section. Finally, the was very salty, very ordinary, and rather expensive considering the lack of quality. The salad was fine, but the bread was quite stale. The waitstaff was very nice and quite attentive, but it didn’t make up for the quality of the food or atmosphere. We strongly believe in supporting our local businesses, we were very sorry that Bella Roma was not better.


Rock Creek Rumblings II
Ted Gest

The post from Harold Goldstein may help in narrowing the dispute. If the basic issue is making biking and commuting compatible during rush hour, why not a variation of the post I cited recently: restricting rush-hour driving to one side of the parkway/Beach Drive. That seems to me a reasonable compromise that accommodates both sides (literally).

What I reject is a biased "solution" arguing that the park has strayed too far from its original purpose, so we must return to the supposed original purpose and allow unlimited hiking/jogging/bicycling but no cars. That may be wonderful for much of Yosemite, but not for Washington, D.C., in the late 1990s and beyond. And having lived through the closure that Mr. Goldstein cites, I must report that the Post is correct and he is wrong. There was a significant increase in traffic on other routes when Beach Drive was closed, as there would be now.


Nice Things About the District, #247
Bob Kulawiec

. . . not that I mind all of the kvetching, whining and complaining, but I thought I’d put in a plug for a local small business that makes life in the C. of the F. W. just a wee bit more pleasant.

As the owner of two cats, I’d been purchasing supplies at the Connecticut/Van Ness Petco for a couple of years, when I finally got fed up with the negative attitudes and ignorance of the "salespeople" (cashiers, actually - silly of me to expect pet store employees to know anything about pets), and wandered across the street to the small, storefront Pet Pantry. Well, I fell in love instantly and haven’t darkened the door of a Petco since (and, happily, the Van Ness Petco is no more).

Pet Pantry is run by a friendly, helpful and (most importantly) *knowledgeable* couple (owners? I don’t know their names), who themselves own five cats and two dogs, and are always more than willing to spend an inordinate amount of time dispensing advice and sharing pet stories. They gave me invaluable tips about finding a veterinary dentist for teeth-cleaning (yes, I *know* I have way too much time and $ on my hands . . . ). Their stock tends to favor cats and dogs, but they do have bird, rodent and fish supplies. And although their prices may be slightly higher than those in the big chains, I am more than happy to shell out a buck or two more for a 20-pound bag of Science Diet in return for friendly and helpful service. Also, I prefer to support local businesses over national chains. On top of all that, Stephanie Faul tells me they even deliver! (although I’d much rather stop in and chat with the proprietors)

So I urge you to patronize Pet Pantry. I have no affiliation, other than as a very satisfied customer.


Tennis Courts Near Logan Circle
Randy Wells

The tennis courts at 10th and Rhode Island, as well as the adjacent basketball courts and soccer field, are public—and heavily used by neighbors in the area. I don’t know that they are "labeled", but they are also on the grounds of Shaw Junior High, part of which doubles as a recreation center mainly used by kids in the area.

By the way, Logan Circle _is_ in Shaw—the original boundaries of which are Florida Avenue, 15th Street, M Street, and North Capitol.


Tennis Courts
Martha Saccocio

I used to play tennis at the courts below Banneker High School (across from Howard). It’s a bit of a hike from Logan Circle, but closer than Georgetown, I think. They are not lit.


Swiss Banks and the Holocaust

On Wednesday, July 16, at 7:00 pm, The American Jewish Committee hosts a Swiss event not to miss. "Swiss Banks and the Holocaust" will take place at the AJC office. Featured speakers are Andy Baker, AJC director of European Affairs; Gregg Rickman with Sen. D’Amato’s office; and Marilyn Henry of the Jerusalem Post. The cover charge is $7, and includes a light dinner. Reservations are required to Vera at the AJC at 202.785.4200. The AJC is located at 1156 15th Street, 12th floor. The nearest metro is Farragut North or McPherson Square.

Lynne Mersfelder


Computers. Buying one shouldn’t be so scary. Setting one up shouldn’t be so scary. Getting on the Internet shouldn’t be so scary.

Jeffrey Itell 202.244.4163


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