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March 14, 1999

We’re Back in themail

Dear themailers:

We're back from Jolly ol' London, and, since this is a long catch-up issue, and since there'll always be an England, I'll wait to bore you with my vacation stories in the next issue. British Museum, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Gallery, Wallace Collection, Courthauld Museum, doncha know? (Hey, London is rainy in the early spring — you don't have to be a culture vulture to do a lot of things indoors.)

Gary Imhoff


Happy Hour Food
David Sobelsohn,

About 2 years ago the City Paper ran an article entitled “Get Happy!” about the best happy hour food deals around town. But the article is now out of date: Ciao Baby Cucina — which the article credited with “the best truly free happy hour buffet we found” — has closed. The Watergate Hotel's Potomac Lounge long ago discontinued its $5 service of what the article called “the most exquisite buffet food I've ever had outside a wedding.” So — themail subscribers: what are today's best happy hour food deals? And does anyone know what led to the passing of Ciao Baby? Hungry fellow subscribers want to know.


New Williams Administration Appointments
Gordon Glaza,

Regarding Dorothy Brizill's posting in themail about new Williams administration appointments being “people who don't know the neighborhoods,” let me attempt to explain the benefits of such a trend. One of the main reasons Mr. Williams earned so many votes from D.C. residents is that he is relatively new to the city and is not beholden to the groups that held power in Washington over the past twenty years. He did not run “against” City Hall, rather he offered a new way to “manage” City Hall. In fact, he took some criticism for offering evident management skills rather than political skills (which will become evident), and
this made him even more popular with voters. We have watched politicians try to run this city for many years. Last fall we voted to turn the levers of power over to someone who actually knows how to manage.

Second, when an organization is broken, it is wise to bring in folks from outside to fix it. This routinely happens in small business, big business, state government, academia, and other organizations that fall on hard times. By any measure, the government of D.C. is broken and has been for years. Again, this is precisely what voters had in mind when they elevated Mr. Williams to mayor, rather than select a candidate with experience on the City Council. We wanted an “outsider” to create a new environment for tackling the city's many problems.

Third, the new faces Mr. Williams is hiring will ultimately get to know their way around the city's agencies, neighborhoods, and skeleton-filled closets. However, it is important that they start with a new vision for D.C. and lead by example, showing that there is in fact a better way to run this city. Without new leadership and ideas from “outside” we are destined to become the urban equivalent of Penn Central RR, Braniff Airlines, or Studebaker-Nash, take your pick. Had they started earlier, these organizations could have been rebuilt by “outsiders” too, and would still be in business. The citizens of D.C. voted for new and better management at every level, to make a difference in our city. Mr. Williams is doing his best to deliver exactly that.


DC Neighborhoods
Matthew Gilmore,

Defining DC neighborhoods is a very tricky and very subjective matter — almost everyone can offer up a different definition of any neighborhood. Realtors have a set of definitions, so did the 1967 comprehensive plan — but if you look, those are all areas with fuzzy boundaries. Since we do workshops on neighborhood research with the Historical society, we deal with this issue at the outset and point out the various players — the inhabitants, the ANC definitions, the ward boundaries, the various comprehensive plans, the realtors, the historic districts. Neighborhoods have no legislative standing, so no legal definition.


Baseball Guidance
Mike Hill,

I propose that interested citizens begin an immediate and aggressive letter writing / lobbying campaign to try to guide the development plan for our baseball team. I would like to see two things happen: 1) Require the developers to come up with most of the money for the stadium on their own, and require that any influx of public funds me matched to a multiyear “give-back” of money, to be used for school refurbishment, community programs, etc. 2) Mandate the re-use / refurbishment of existing facilities such as RFK. The money could also be spent to make it a better soccer stadium and improve green space around the site. 3) Reject any argument based on sweetheart deals the Barry administration gave to developers in the past. Screw them all. This is supposed to be a new financially responsible administration, so prove it by not sticking constituents with the bill.


RFK: Already Occupied
Michelle Treistman,

I hope I'm not the only person to respond to the implication in Ms. Vallette's submission (3/1) that RFK is a venue in disuse, and therefore perfect for being renovated into a baseball stadium. “Reuse what you have,” were her words. I have two words to offer in response: DC United.

And, I'd also offer the reminder of that wonderful new city of Raljohn, MD, incorporated solely for the new Redskins stadium. I believe RFK is just as unsuitable for baseball as it was for football, if not more. It is, however, a perfect soccer stadium, an excellent example of reuse, and currently the home of the '96, '97 MLS Cup champions, the '98 MLS Cup finalists, and the first U.S. club to ever win the Interamerican Cup. If DC United were to leave Washington, then RFK definitely should be reused as opposed to disused. As for baseball, I think DC has more important things to spend money on — education and infrastructure to say the least.


DMV Still Needs More Work
Jay E. Vinton, JEV@CU.NIH.GOV

Well, the D.C. Dept of Motor Vehicles is still broken as far as I am concerned. When my registration renewal application hadn't arrived by 4 weeks prior to expiration, I called and received instructions for sending in the renewal information and money without an application and did that. My renewed registration and stickers never came in return, but six days before my registration was due to expire, the renewal application finally arrived.

Since it was then too late to do it by mail, I had to take time off from work and go down to the Kafkaesque 301 C street to do it in person, D.C. having failed twice in the renewal by mail process. Of course I had to write them a second check when I went in person, and still face the possibility of further fights with them if they end up cashing both checks. Sigh. Whine. Grump. There, that feels better.


A Step Backwards
Ed T. Barron,

Up until very recently a senior citizen needed only to go to the window at the Metro Center station, show his or her proof of age, and be issued a bus card for senior citizens reduced fare. The new system require a form to be filled out and sent somewhere in the bureaucracy for many others to act on this form (how many bureaucrats does it take to issue a bus card?). I'm sure there are lots of hands making busy work because the form copy that you will get says you will receive your card in the mail in two to four weeks. This is certainly a step backwards and not in the needed direction to decentralize tasks to the lowest level. Perhaps this is one of the two steps back for every step forward we will be seeing in the new administration.


Ed T. (spy in the sky) Barron,

That's the cry when a tree falls. What's the cry when a lamp post falls? And fall they will as demonstrated last week on the windy day during rush hour on Massachusetts Avenue NW. From my lofty perch atop the rise on the NE side of Mass. Ave. between 47th and 48th Sts., I watched as an old Volvo 240 was towed away after being hit by a falling lamp post on the D.C. bound side. At first I thought that the Volvo must have jumped the curb and taken the post down. Not so. The old post had nary a mark any where near the base. What there was at the very base was a crumbling pile of rust and rot. The old sheet steel base had rusted completely through around the perimeter of the base and the high winds toppled it over. It's the first in what is likely to be a series of “Timberrrrs....” on Mass Ave. An inspection of the nearly 100 lamp posts on both sides of Mass. Ave between Ward and Westmoreland circles shows all the bases are rusted. Those made from sheet steel are rusted through in many places (some with holes big enough to stash your empty cereal boxes).

I have called the Public Works Dept. and left the warning message for one of the lamp post base specialists (perhaps one of many hundreds) to invite their survey and inspection of these lamp posts to determine which are in the worst shape and to get those bases replaced. For the long haul I would recommend letting a contract to replace all the bases with state of the art materials. My choice would be for a graphite epoxy composite which will last until Y6K. The top part of the posts can be unbolted and affixed to a new base with little effort (save the time to get the rusted bolts undone and hoist up the top part). How many men does it take to replace a lamp post base? Stay tuned and I'll report that info as soon as I spot the repair crews on the job.


Color in the Washington Post
Cathy Vidito,

Phil Shapiro says that, by adding color, the Washington Post is misguidedly trying to increase readership. I assume that's one of the intended side benefits, but I'm sure the recent changes have more to do with pleasing the businesses that buy ads. I am satisfied with the change to color because if advertisers are happy and more buy ad space, then that means (in principle at least) the newspaper has more money to hire more reporters and improve content. Also, subscriber costs are kept low (25 cents is a still a great bargain). I too was skeptical when the switch to color was announced last year, but I think the Post has used color very well to enhance what's already there. The newspaper is now easier to read and photo images are more readily recognizable. I agree that the Post can greatly improve local news content, but one hurdle at a time, please. Besides, one paper can't — and shouldn't — be everything to all.


Having Fun in DC
Leila Afzal,

One of the things our family likes is to skate at the rink in Georgetown on K Street. It is wonderful skating outdoors and enjoying the views of the Potomac and the Kennedy Center. The people who run the rink are very pleasant and it usually is not crowded (at least at the times we go.) On a separate topic . . . I have heard from two different sources that Arlene Ackerman is seriously considering leaving DC to return to Seattle. Have others heard the same or have additional information? I have a child in the public school system and am very concerned of yet another change in leadership.


The Greaseman
Taylor Simmons,

Friends, Washingtonians, Countrymen (and women), I come to bury the Greaseman, not to praise him. The Greaseman's sick attempt at commentary on rap music was clearly in poor taste, offensive, something for which he must apologize, and something for which he should answer to the community. For the relatives of the murdered man in Texas, I can't imagine how it would have felt if they had somehow heard those words on the radio. It's a good thing the Greaseman's show isn't syndicated.

It's bad enough to suffer the loss of a loved one. But to hear even an obviously perverted attempt at humor for rationalizing that loss is totally outrageous. If this deed were to go unpunished, the next thing you know, there would be songs on the radio glorifying murder and gun violence, never mind the feelings of victims' families and police officers' widows.


The End of the Greaseman? Not Likely
Mike Hill,

It is no surprise that the Greaseman finally said something so objectionable that he had to be fired. In point of fact, the sad situation in Texas was a perfect opportunity for shock-jocks of his ilk to make an "off-the-cuff" joke that gets them lots of publicity, solidifies their 'bad-boy' image, and gets them lots of bonus points with their audience. DC101 has made a ton of cash from this jerk, hence their tendency to re-hire him on a regular basis after firing him for one of these comments. He's done it before and gotten away with it. If he's sorry, it's only because he got more bad publicity than good.

These guys target an audience that think the American Dream is about sex, drugs, money, guns, and rock-&-roll, and solely the property of middle-class white guys and those who aspire to be middle-class white guys. The saddest thing is that Doug Tracht probably doesn't like these folks much, and his aspirations are way above theirs; they're just an easy target audience and a way for him to get rich. Give him six months, he'll be back at DC101 or somewhere else, with the same tired schtick. The real bad guy here is DC101 for giving him an almost continuous outlet for this stuff over the last 20 years.


Wild Life, and the Wild Life, Continued
T. Jr. Hardman,

Moving right along to just about the time we might expect to have to deal with a rabid raccoon plague, the end of December 1999, it should be mentioned that the average person should consume about 8 pints of water daily, expect to use another 8 pints of water in cooking, and about as much again for a sponge bath. Keep in mind also that there's a perfectly good river running through town. You might want to stock up on halzone and lots of fuel to boil water to get rid of giardia, you'll have to boil the water for at least five minutes. Also keep in mind that you've got to heat water for washing, etc. Drink bottled water and use treated river water for washing. Of course, if you are stockpiling food, you might wish to acquire a good shotgun and leave it disassembled and stashed until the power actually goes off. Don't forget a few good fire extinguishers too. Of course, be sure to top off your car's tank, it might develop that you want to leave town at a moment's notice. Or alternatively, keep in mind that if there are any major failures of the fire department, townhouses are notorious for exacerbating conflagrations. Cars, while generally uncomfortable for sleeping, at least have the benefit of having a heater, and unlike tents cannot be shredded by a rabid raccoon. You may give some thought to restocking your home's medical supplies cabinet with such over-the-counter stuff as extra bandages, antiseptics and disinfectants, and assorted nostrums such as antibiotic ointment and antihistamines and aspirin — it may well be that some hospitals could be heavily impacted by Y2K in terms of either technology failures, or casualties of unforeseeable events; people might well be stuck attending to their own health for some time.

As always, the best preparation will be to know, and to be on good terms with, your neighbors -- folks may wish to do some degree of organizing within their neighborhoods, be sure you know which houses might have elderly people who'd need to be seen to in the event of power failures, etc. I take a lesson in preparedness from the recent ice storm. I went out and cleared any debris I could out of the streets, on the theory that if there was an emergency somewhere nearby, it might be nice to be able to have an emergency vehicle get there quickly. With much of the work done for them by myself and a few like-minded neighbors, power crews were able to restore power to my block within 20 hours. On adjacent blocks where people waited for PEPCO to do everything for them, they didn't have power for 6 days. As for the neighbors for (and with some of) whom I busted butt to clear the streets, I bet they won't in the future be so quick to scoff at me as a wacko when I'm running around dressed in camouflage. Don't rely on the DC government, rely on yourselves and your neighborhood.


Furniture Refinisher Wanted
E. James Lieberman,

Can anyone recommend a furniture refinishing person?


March Edition of NARPAC, Inc. Web Site Looks at Measuring Progress
Len Sullivan,

The National Association to Restore Pride in America's Capital has revised its web site for March (See “What's New?” at with new headline summaries, new analysis of — and correspondence supporting — Superintendent Ackerman's plan to use a Weighted Student Formula to shift funding to the larger, poorer schools (further away from the gifted and more towards to “giftless”); and a review of the emerging threat to our justice system through jury nullification, in which juries judge the appropriateness of the law, rather than the guilt of the accused. NARPAC summarizes and analyses the latest “official” interpretation of the population migration in and out of DC — this version asserts that the outflow did not increase as much as the in-flow decreased! Other additions discuss the ongoing evolution of budget surpluses; mayoral plans; criticisms of the DC Council; federal assistance to DC; and future regional business planning by BoT's Potomac Conference.

NARPAC's latest editorial view entitled “It's the Quality of Government, Stupid” reminds that virtually all of DC's problems stem from the inadequacies of the local, regional, and federal governments, and that DC's achievement of budget surpluses has not produced a quality of life either high enough by national standards or level enough by regional standards. The issue is surely not whether the mayor is “black enough,” but whether the city bureaucracy is smart enough to convert from a patronage based failure to a merit based success. It points out the growing need to measure and track governments' progress — and provides a straw man list of 75 quantifiable indicators of their success; estimates of their current values; numerical targets for ten years hence; and the basis for setting these goals. Take a look at . Help us make the list better.



Hands on DC
John Mills,

Hands On DC will be having its annual work-a-thon on Sat. April 10, 1999, to fix up DC schools and raise college scholarship money for deserving students. We need people to be team leaders on Sat. April 10. What is a team leader? A team leader agrees to organize 8-10 of their friends to work at the event on Sat. April 10. If you cannot be a team leader on April 10, but would like to help in another way, please let me know. It is a great cause and an extremely rewarding experience. I encourage you to join us. Thanks for your help.


Hyde Elementary School Auction
Bill Starrels,

Hyde Elementary School's Auction '99, Round Up For Success, is being held on Saturday night, 6-9:00 PM, March 20th at St. John's Church, located on the 3200 block of “O” street, west of Wisconsin Ave., NW in Georgetown. 400 auction items, including: Dinners at Inn at Little Washington, Tahoga, Nathans, Bistro Francais, Sequoia, to name just a few! Vacation package to NYC! Airline tickets, Sports tickets, including box seats to the Capitals and Wizards. Great Redskin seats! All proceeds benefit the Hyde Elementary School, a DC public school. Tickets are on sale now, $25.00 a couple. Admission includes food and fun! Yee Ha !!!


Jazz Gala/Benefit for Capitol Hill Public School
Mark Eckenwiler,

The 2d Annual Jazz Gala & Benefit Auction for Peabody SWS will take place on Saturday, March 20, 1999 from 7-10:30 p.m. at the Sewall-Belmont House (144 Constitution Avenue NE). Noted jazz vocalist Debbie Kirkland will be the featured entertainer. Ms. Kirkland has performed at numerous DC jazz venues (including Blues Alley and Charlie's of Georgetown), and her first album, “In Session...” (1998), was favorably reviewed in the Washington Post. Proceeds from the event will benefit the School-Within-a-School Charter at Peabody, a teacher-directed DC public school (inspired by Italy's Reggio Emilia preschools) located on Capitol Hill. Advance tickets are $15 (standard) or $25 (patron; name listed in program); tickets at the door are $20. Free parking will be available at 2d & C Sts. NE (Senate lot). Tickets may be purchased at Trover Book Shop, 221 Penn. Ave. SE. For further information, call the school at 202-698-3260.


Community Forum on “Race Dialogue: Where do we go from here?”
Bob Myers,

Community Forum featuring Angela Oh, former member of the President's Race Initiative, on March 20 starting at 7:30 p.m. It will take place at All Souls Church (16th and Harvard Streets NW). Interpretation in Vietnamese and Spanish will be available. It is sponsored by the Multicultural Community Service. For more information call MCS on 518-6737 or me, Bob Myers, on 362-6741.



Dining Table
Jack Talmadge,

Glass top dining room table, 6'7"x3'10" Base is identical glass. $400.


Phil Shapiro,

Two line speaker phone/answering machine for sale. AT&T model 1532. $40. Upper northwest DC location.



Looking for Housing
Steven Roy Goodman,

Professional female looking for apartment share or sublet. Willing to spend $500-800 for own bedroom. Preferably in Dupont, Woodley Park, Cleveland Park, Van Ness areas. Please email me at or call my friend's answering machine at (703) 527-1641. References available.


Apartment Wanted
Aries Keck,

Prof. woman looking for one or two bedroom apartment in Dupont, Adams Morgan, Mt. Pleasant, or U St. areas. Budget: $550 or more/month. Many wonderful references. Will accept short-term or long-term rental. Also considering buying condo/small house. Contact or call 202-326-7041.


Quiet Office, Part-Time Rent
Jenn Weed,

BodyWise has a large office, 10 X 20 and set up for bodywork, health related work. It is available every day of the month except 4 consecutive days once a month. The rent is very reasonable. Call Jenn 202-966-6113. One block from Cleveland Park Metro


Need Off-Street Parking Dupont/Adams-Morgan
Lonna Shafritz,

I'm looking for a parking place, as close to 19th and California as possible, starting early April, with easy access. Would prefer actual covered/protected garage space, but any ideas welcome. phone: 202-884-8784.


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