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Dear Neighbors: On August 5, dc.story begins what we hope will be a free monthly get together with featured speakers, free food, and, most importantly, a roof over our heads. Details to follow. Meanwhile, please send me your speaker suggestions. Jeffrey Itell July 12, 1998
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Fit of Pique
I would like to reconsider my cancellation of my subscription to dcstory. I read [your comments last issue about Lincoln and Grant] and in a fit of pique decided that I found your assumptions and stereotypes here offensive enough to disassociate myself by canceling my subscription. However, I have reconsidered and thought that I would instead share with you my reaction. I will say straight out that I am a southerner, and identify myself as being a southerner behind only that of being an American. I do not intend to argue here, however, whether or not Jeff Davis was a traitor or about the propriety of naming roads and edifices after Civil War era figures (northern or southern). But in making your arguments you couched your language with such broad-brush disparaging terms that I was quite offended. You suggest that DC renames things after Lincoln and Grant specifically in order to offend "confederates" in the "Jim Crowe, segregationist heartland" -- not in honor of their accomplishments or their legacies, but because you were annoyed that another jurisdiction has sought fit to name things after people you refer to as "traitors." Perhaps you forget that Lincoln wanted reconciliation between the states after the war, that Grant said that Lee's troops were "our countrymen again" after the surrender at Appomattox. When I am with people from the north and elsewhere and they ask why do southerners still fight the Civil War, in light of statements like the above, I sometimes wonder who it is who really is still fighting the War. I also found offensive your "holier-than-thou" attitude. I do not deny that Southern states had many racial policies which were wrong, period. But your words sounded to me as if you still believed that Jim Crow laws and segregationism was still the law of the land down there in the "Deep South" of northern Virginia. The South does not have a monopoly on racism -- it is unfortunately a national problem, and has been since colonial days. One just as easily could refer to the land of Dred Scott, Tammany Hall and No Irish/Chinese/other ethnicity need apply. If you find satisfaction in offending all those "racists" below the Potomac, then you will likely find more success with statements such as those above than renaming things after Abraham Lincoln. If you want to strike a blow against racist, Jim Crow, segregationist sentiments as found today, then you might find more success in using a slightly smaller brush and be a bit more selective in your targets for opprobrium.
Lincoln and Grant
I wouldn't want to have to stand by the phrase "only the Lincoln Memorial." It's impressive to most of us. Maybe D.C. hasn't done enough to honor its Union heritage, but I'm pretty sure there's a large and conspicuously-placed statue of Grant on horseback at the east end of the mall, just down from the Capitol, and I know I've seen a statute of Gen. Hancock in the District. Farragut North and West Metro stops border Farragut Park, with its statue of Union Admiral David Farragut. Charles Sumner Elementary, named for the noted abolitionist, would qualify. I would guess the Lincoln Theatre is named for Abe Lincoln, but I don't know. Same with Lincoln Park on Capitol Hill. Grant Circle? Sheridan Circle? McPherson Square? Union Station. Maybe the problem is people not paying attention. Farragut Park, of course, has a statue
The Lame Name Game
What's with your proposal to name everything in town after dead white guys (Not to be sexist, racist or life-ist)? Where oh where is the Susan B. Anthony Boulevard? Where is the Harriet Tubman International airport? Where is the new Ron Brown Convention Center? Perhaps one step on the road to de-glorifying war is to stop naming everything after its perpetrators.
Grate of the Union
You're joking, Jeff, right? You don't actually want to rename a Virginia airport after a Union hero because it "would be a real stick in the eye," do you? I'm a little unsettled by that, because I'd like to think our esteemed moderator is a more evolved human being than the vengeful, smallminded Congressporkers who shoved "R****d R****n Washington National Airport" down our throats. Please, let's not perpetuate that mindset. BTW, in the interest of full disclosure, shouldn't you inform your dc.story readers that you recently saw (and hated) "Gone With the Wind"? That might go a long way toward explaining your sudden attack of Dixiephobia.
Grant, Lincoln, Dulles, Davis
Grant in highly honored by a major statue at the base of the Capitol next to that reflecting pool. Lincoln does deserve more here. Dulles should be put to rest in a footnote. As for Davis and Lee, both failed their sworn duties to the Union. Lee, educated at US expense and a US general, asked for a pardon from Johnson, and never got it. But for Lee, the loss of life and the horror of war in our country could have been significantly less.
Nom de Guerre
Regarding renaming streets within the District of Columbia, how about renaming Georgia Avenue Gen. Sherman Ave? :)
Please Enlighten Us Poor Dumb Southerners
Jefferson Davis a traitor? Maybe misguided but I wouldn't take it *that* far. And oooooh wouldn't renaming the international airport really tick off all those white-collar computer programmers from La Jolla living in the area. Seems to me that message would be put to better use in "enlightened" northern still-segregated cities such as Boston. I like the Lincoln Boulevard idea though.
Jeffrey's idea of renaming some of the region's public spaces in honor of Union heroes caused me to chuckle, but he makes an important point. I'd like to suggest that, in addition to military and political heroes, we add philosophers, artists, writers... like one sees on nearly every street of Paris. Maybe match names to street letters (let's really educate those fully enfranchised citizens whose tourist bus fumes fill our streets!). In addition, I would like to see more mentions of locals who have contributed to their home, the nation's capital. For example, it is my understanding that the Washington Monument was initiated by locals in honor of their city's founder. I read that the Historical Society of Washington is planning a D.C. museum--a great idea. I hope it is prominent. I also think the city should own and maintain a PUBLIC home for our Chief Executive, like states provide their Governors (despite the cost factor). That way, we can keep an eye on him or her. I've checked most local tour guides (plan to do it systematically at some point) and found that most barely mention basic local issues, like in guides to other areas. So tourists come here and learn little about local D.C. In fact, the Smithsonian's book, part of their "Smithsonian Guides to Historic America" series, is entitled "Virginia and the Capital Region: Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland, Delaware"---!?!? By the way, the city of Paris was not allowed to have a Mayor until about 1974, because the rest of France was fearful that Parisians, those free thinking urban dwellers (mainly conservative bourgeois...) would become too powerful. Chirac, who was prominent in French national politics and founded the RPR party, became the first elected Mayor, a Parisian from the 5th "ward." Unlike here, where national politicians are more loyal to their state and cities than D.C. (with some exceptions), national politicians in France have always contributed greatly to Paris by initiating "Grand Projects" to make the city of Paris a world cultural capital that all of France is proud of (granted, sometimes at the local's expense). London has had similar issues. Issues of being the capital city.
Abraham, Martin, and...Eleanor, Dave, and Ike
I've always wanted to rename 13 1/2 street, next to the Wilson Building for Walter Washington, it would be Walter Washington and 1/2 street. Dave Schwartz and I dreamed up L'Enfant Promenade and Banneker Circle. I'd like to really name something for Eleanor Roosevelt. Also, Name the Rock Creek bike path for Dave Clarke. Then there was going to be the Eisenhower Memorial. It was going to be just like the Washington Monument only 555.5 feet deep.
Dukee and the Pizza
I only note that it is difficult for the city to assess the value of a money- losing business, and that seems like a fair reason for any delay in relocating Mr. Douki's pizza shop. The other reason seems to be his disputation of the assessment. Just drive by sometime-- you won't think there's a business there at all, and that is not the result of Convention Center activity, but has always been the case. I have never seen anyone there, and am not surprised that he is not making money; nor am I surprised that he would like the city to help make some for him, especially with Beth Solomon encouraging him to resist relocation. As for the drug dealers etc, they have always been there. The difference is that they are now visible because the City has begun tearing down the buildings they used to hide out in. The dealers and criminals were there long before the buildings were acquired-- they have been burned out, abandoned and derelict for years. Once again, Beth Solomon would like to blame the vast convention center conspiracy for every ill that befalls the community. While I am terribly sorry that Mr. Douki was shot and injured, I must note that this is hardly the first armed robbery in Shaw, and that a great many occurred long before the Convention Center activity got underway.
Arrests for Expired Licenses
Was anyone else outraged by the story in the post about the DC policy to handcuff and arrest anyone found driving with an expired license? No body has anything good to say about this policy so here is something your councilperson can do immediately, if they have the slightest iota of wanting to assist its citizenry, with NO DOWNSIDE. Get rid of this policy it can only serve to enrage us and vow to take our tax money out. A good police story here to mitigate the above. Two nites ago we left our deck door open while i worked in the basement below and my wife in her office above. About 1 AM a knock and a "anyone home" came from 2 cops who saw the door open while patrolling the alley and decided to check on it. They suggested, of course, not leaving doors open. Of course this would not have happened in many other sections of the city.
Speaking of Road (Dis)Repair
Stan Wellborn's note about utility companies' street patching reminded me of the unbelievably shoddy job I see these guys doing downtown. Whatever they're using to patch the trenches they periodically dig in the streets, it can't be regular asphalt--within weeks it's eroded several inches below the rest of the street, and when you step on it on a hot day, it squishes. (My guess is they're using tar-colored silly putty, or maybe really old pancake syrup.) The amusement of watching a limo's hubcap take flight, frisbee-style, after going through a particularly deep pothole gets old after a while...
My DPW complaint is with the lousy paving job done on 18th St. NW between U and Belmont. The pavement itself is nice and smooth, but you can't drive it at any speed faster than a crawl without permanently rearranging your axles or cracking your molars. It's not that the manhole covers are above the street because they ain't finished yet -- they finished more than 3 years ago now -- and it ain't because Councilmember Frank Smith and his staff didn't know -- because I told 'em, City Paper printed a story about it and told 'em, and he promised more than 3 years ago that he would make sure it got fixed "quickly" -- and it ain't because the contractor hasn't been paid yet -- because he has. The problem is that the manhole covers are BELOW the finished level of the pavement. Whoops! I guess DPW forgot to include in their specifications that streets are supposed to be level and smooth when newly-repaved, even before the utilities dig 'em up or they get repaved (again!) like Nebraska Avenue. I call these "Government-Spec Potholes." Just pray that when the paving job you're interested in is finished someone goes out and makes sure the street is level. And if you live in Ward One, don't count on Frank Smith to do anything about if it ain't done right.
I can sympathize with Joshua Kranzberg's posting on abandoned cars, We used to have that problem on an empty lot at 11th and T Street, NW where cars were left and stripped. That is, until some innovative resident (no names please) did what worked the best: spray painted "Barry's DC" in large letters on the side. The cars were gone within 24 hours. In that regard only, I'll miss the Mayor.
Last issue had two DPW queries that I think I can weigh in on. Joshua Kranzberg asked about discarded vehicles on private property. DPW has told me that it is legal to store a non-registered or non-functioning vehicle on private property in DC, as long as it does not provide harborage for vermin. That is usually taken to mean that the vehicle must be resting on four inflated tires and have no holes in the body. Ted Gest wondered about coordination of street cuts by utilities. A sad story. Currently, when a private utility (Bell Atlantic, Pepco, DC Cable) needs to cut a public road, the law requires that they pay the city the cost of repairing the cut and the city do the work. The motivation behind that law was the thought that making one party responsible for all road work would lead to efficiencies. Somewhat predictably, for many years the city has been collecting the money and then not making the repairs. Currently Bell Atlantic and Pepco are trying to get the law changed so that they can make their own repairs, as they tend to get blamed for the unfixed cuts and they dislike the bad publicity.
A Not So Taxing Woman
Recently I've read with interest dc.story postings concerning property tax penalties and frustrated efforts at having them waived, etc. I was in the same boat, awaiting a request for a waiver of penalty and interest charged to me as a result of paying my property tax one day late. I don't escrow my taxes and insurance, I pay them myself, which likely was my first mistake. At any rate, for reasons I won't go into (but I assure you they were good), I was a day late last fall in paying (at First Union Bank), and was slapped with penalty and interest totalling nearly $200. I called and requested guidance on filing a request for a waiver, which I received immediately, and I filed my request last March. Granted, it took them nearly 4 months to answer, but to my delight, yesterday I received a letter (from Fannie Butler of the Real Property Taxpayer Unit), advising me that the penalty and interest had been waived. Thanks, D.C. Perhaps Money Magazine was right, maybe this city is getting more livable.
So you're interested in that big advertising spot in the beginning of dc.story? Contact Jan Genzer -- the dc.story marketing maven--at Oltjan@aol.com or call him at 202.364.0383.
A restaurant downsizing makes it necessary for our drama discussion group to explore new location options. We would be grateful for recommendations from dc.story readers for inexpensive restaurants in Bethesda with separate rooms that could accommodate 35 people on a weeknight.
I currently hold a gym membership at Results The Gym--Dupont/Adams Morgan area. Trainer rates are running $500/10 sessions. Is this the going rate? Any suggestions on less expensive/alternative methods to begin body building program?
I'm looking for a carnival, preferably one within hiking distance of a Metro station. It's July; there must be a carnival *somewhere* around DC. We're looking for garden-variety carnival rides. Cotton candy is optional. (Second childhoods aren't, apparently. ;-D)
Billions of Business Opportunities in Latin America and the Caribbean!
The Inter-American Development Bank will offer a seminar on July 14 on business opportunities that result from the IDB financed programs for modernization of the state and public sector reform in Latin America and the Caribbean. There is a $150 fee per participant which includes a six-month subscription to IDB Projects, the monthly magazine that carries the Bank's inventory of projects. The seminar begins at 9:00 a.m. in the Andres Bello Auditorium on the 9th floor of the IDB headquarters at 1300 New York Avenue, N.W. Those interested in attending should contact in advance Carla White (202) 623-1365, or Kathy Sanchez at (202) 623-1364.
"Breaking the Code": Play, Video, Museum
Footlights--the modern drama discussion group--meets monthly to discuss plays from the modern theater. Membership is free. At our next meeting we will discuss "Breaking the Code," by Hugh Whitemore. This "elegant and poignant biographical play" (Time Magazine) relates the tragedy of mathematician Alan Turing, a gay Englishman who broke the German Enigma code during World War II & invented the computer, then found that his genius mattered less to his country than his sexual orientation. We will complement our discussion with a video of the play & a private tour of the National Cryptologic Museum, which features several Enigma machines & a video about Turing's wartime code-breaking team. Our discussion takes place Monday, July 20 6:30-9:30 p.m. at Luna Books, 1633 P St., NW. We will view the video Saturday July 25 7:30-10 p.m., at the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Arlington, 4444 Arlington Blvd. The museum trip takes place Saturday August 1 2-4 p.m. at the National Security Agency, Fort Meade, MD & tickets cost $5. For reservations or further information call 202-484-8303, send e-mail to email@example.com, or visit our website at www.jskay-consulting.com/footlights/ .
Cardinal 56K modem for sale. $50 or best offer. Jeffrey Itell, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Safe, secure, brick, newly renovated Cleveland Park garage, close to Connecticut Avenue and metro, available for rent. Long term arrangement preferable. $100/month. Contact Margie Siegel, email@example.com if interested.
Apartment for Rent R L Widmann, firstname.lastname@example.org For rent: 1 September. One bedroom apartment on Capitol Hill, near 7th and Independence SE. Furnished or unfurnished. $850 furnished/$790 unfurnished. Excludes phone and electricity. Includes gas, water, cable TV (with many movie channels), ADT security system. Berber carpet. Completely renovated recently. Furnished includes pots & pans, linens, towels, microwave, tv/vcr; appropriate for visiting scholar/researcher in DC area. No smokers. No cats, dogs okay. 2 blocks to Eastern Market Metro. 1/2 block to Eastern Market. 1/2 block to the Natatorium, the public swimming pool. Short walk to Library of Congress, Folger Shakespeare Library, the Mall.
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