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October 10, 1999

Harmony and Melody

Dear Sopranos, Altos, Tenors, and Basses:

It turns out that the story of our official song is more complicated and less clear than I thought. Maybe the song written by Jimmy Dodd, our head Mouseketeer, is DC's official song, and maybe it isn't. In any case, the story is too long to tell in themail, so please go to to read it and to find its lyrics, as well as the lyrics of our official march and of the song that most school children in the first half of this century thought was our official song.

Gary Imhoff


GWU New Proposed For-Profit Hospital Building
James McLeod,

If you don't want the press to cover a topic, make it complicated. The October Foggy Bottom News has a good, just-the-facts article on the GWU proposed new hospital. The proposal to squeeze a new hospital building on the site north of the Foggy Bottom metro has initially passed two hurdles — obtaining a special zoning exception and a certificate of need.

The Foggy Bottom Association has requested the DC Court of Appeals (No. 99-AA-1105) to vacate the August 6, 1999, DC Board of Zoning Adjustment order granting the exception. (In dissent, B.A. Comm. King appropriately called the Board's finding of no adverse impact ludicrous.) As for the certificate of need, ANC-2A05 Commissioner Dorothy Miller has filed an appeal with the Board of Appeals and Review asking it to review the D.C. State Health Planning & Development Agency's approval of a certificate of need for the hospital. The third hurdle is getting a building permit. Lloyd Jordan, Director of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, has put a hold on a building permit until it receives an adequate environmental impact statement. GWU and its partner have not said what it proposes to do with the existing building. Foggy Bottom residents have signed petitions for a public hearing on the EIS.

At today's (10/6) ground breaking citizens held a protest rally. While it's called GWU Hospital, the GWU only has a 20 % share of ownership. University Health Services, Inc., of Pennsylvania owns 80% interest in District Hospital Partners, L.P., the for-profit entity that runs the hospital. I've testified before SHPDA and the BZA in opposition to the proposed hospital. My primary concern is for the safety of pedestrians using the 23rd Street sidewalk between the Metro and Washington Circle. More than 1000 persons per hour use that sidewalk during rush hour.


Calling for a Cab in DC
Phil Shapiro,

Here's some friendly cab advice I hope is helpful to others. Thursday evening I needed to deliver a donated computer to a friend who is doing good things with computers and kids in southeast DC. So I thought it would be no trouble to call a cab to transport me a mile to my friend's office. I started calling at 7:30 pm and discovered that Diamond Cab doesn't pick up the phone. No answer for over an hour. Yellow Cab of DC's phone number was busy. Continuously busy. Persistently, continuously, everlastingly busy.

So I tried calling every cab company listed in the yellow pages. Half of them are out of business. The others did not answer, or service Maryland and Virginia only. After 9 pm, when I reached the end of the list of cabs, I realized my only recourse was to start calling businesses in the next category in the Yellow Pages — Taxidermists. “I realize you folks are not a cab company,” I pleaded, “but if you transport me a mile I'll pay you the equivalent of two stuffed animals. Three stuffed animals. I'll pay you three stuffed animals if you'll just transport me a mile.”

The moral of this story? If you need a cab in DC, the best thing to do is to go out on the street and hail one, and then if you're transporting stuff, ask the cab driver to take you to your origin to pick up the stuff you're transporting. The alternative is having to call those taxidermists again, and they will surely tell you to stuff it.

[Do you have a pizza parlor close? Maybe you can go there, order a pizza, have it delivered to where you want to go, and hitch a ride along. Guaranteed delivery in thirty minutes, you know. Does anyone have a recommendation for a cab company, or leads for which companies are best to call in particular areas of the city? — Gary Imhoff]


The Lowdown on the State Song
Nick Keenan,, Shaw

If you are willing to believe the DC Government about anything, you can get the “official” answer to the state song question at the DC Government Web site, ( ). Along with the population, motto, bird, flower, origin of name, and other tidbits favored by elementary school geography teachers, there is the official “state” song, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Hard to believe, but who would have thought that the cherry blossom isn't the state flower either?

[Nick, this is just one more example of why you can't believe the DC government about anything. Check the bird and flower, too. For the real story of the official state songs, see my article. — Gary Imhoff]


Ahh — THAT Song! Goin’ Back to the Roots..
Mark Richards, Dupont East,

Carl Bergman's mention that the District song was adopted by the commissioners jogged my sometimes fleeting memory. On 8/16/97, after Congress shifted power to the Control Board, Colbert King recalled his DC childhood where unelected commissioners had proclaimed the official song for the city. He reported that his all-black racially separated peers sang it in a hand-me-down school in this disenfranchised city — “WASH-ING-TON, the fair-est ci-ty in the greatest land of all. Named for one, our coun-try’s fa-ther who first an-swered free-dom’s call/God bless our White House, our Ca-pitol, too/ And keep- ev-er fly-ing the Red, White and Blue.” King wrote “District residents shouldn't have to prove their worthiness to have the same rights enjoyed by other Americans,” and added “We're here, in part, because we let down.… We committed the cardinal sin of forgetting where we are; of deluding ourselves into thinking that those downtown and Capitol Hill smiles meant acceptance and that a golden age had arrived; of failing to remember the hard, bitter truth that in this world there's never a time when we as a people are allowed the luxury of sitting back and relaxing and enjoying our meager gains. We failed to pass on what we were taught: that every generation has to press down and re-win the victory. That, as long as we draw breath on this earth, its always a struggle.” Speaking of irony. . . .

I made a trip to Independence Hall to see where those mean ole PA militia men threatened our founders to get their pay for helping win the land. That event is said to have led the founders to add the “exclusive jurisdiction” clause to the 1787 Constitution, setting up a unique little Kingdom for Congress. After the tour I had a great talk with the guide. He was unaware of the relationship between that event and our current lack of voting rights and pointed out that it was just as ironic as the two giant portraits gracing the two rooms off the Senate Chamber. . . . Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette! . . . a gift of France which hung in the White House in DC until the British vandals torched the place in 1814. . . . France gave the US a new set of portraits in 1976, now in Congress Hall. Maybe we should commission something similar with Istook and Hutchinson to hang in the District Building. Also, a book published by the Office of the Controller of “the city that loves you back” (Philadelphia: A New Urban Direction) shows they have similar problems as DC (they still think they lost status when DC won the right to host the nation's capitol — if they only knew the real cost . . . maybe Philly is the “City of Divine Providence”). Anyway, they lost 500,000 people between 1970-1995 — about 400,000 were suburban bound middle-class Caucasians. They have a 17-member Council. Their school board is appointed by the mayor from a list provided by an Educational Nominating Panel (don't know who picks it). The BD appoints the Superintendent. Maybe DC should shift some of those elected School Board positions over to make the Council larger (At-Large)? DC shouldn't reduce its total number of elected officials below the current 25 (for all state, county, and city functions this has to the lowest in US). We won't get them back once gone. If we want a bigger Council, couple it with the school board issue. Meanwhile, I'm headed to the city that beheaded Louis XVI and the “let 'em eat cake” lady — a lesson about the cost of ignoring public opinion!


Irony Alert
Alan Abrams, Takoma DC,

With regard to Ralph Blessing's Musings [in the last issue], I recently heard a broadcast ad for Bell Atlantic Mobile. The voice-over was something to the effect of “Select Bell Atlantic Mobile... Exercise your freedom to choose... You could even [use this service to] call your congressman!”


What to Do When DPW's Regular Telephone Numbers Aren’t Responsive — Maybe
Ralph Blessing,

Our experience with the alleged all-purpose problem solver number (727-1000) has been mixed. On one occasion, when a large tree branch fell in the street, we had next-day action. Kudos! On a second matter, though, it was no different from the “good old days” of DC government. We called three times over the course of a month to get a burnt out alley light replaced. Each time was like starting the process from square one, even when we had the reference number in hand. On the third try, my call was forwarded to the appropriate DPW office, which reported that no request had ever been submitted from the 727-1000 folks. In fact, the DPW person gave me her direct number for future reference, since she has such a poor opinion of the 727-1000 approach. We also tried 727-1000 when our block (neighborhood?) didn't have its recycling picked up a couple weeks ago. Nothing resulted from that call either. At this stage, I'd give the 727-1000 system a “D,” but at least we don't have to dial 10-10-something-or-other in order to get through!


Speeding Cars
Alan Teitzman,

What can we do about the speeding on Irving Street, NW? Cars fly by at 45-50 mph sometimes; if DC needs revenue, this is a legitimate place to collect it. Secondly, there seems to be more and more out of state cars parked on Irving St. and 18th St. (between Irving and Kenyon Streets) due to the no zone/commuter status; last night I had to drive around for 20 minutes to find a space; this area needs to be zoned just like the rest of Mt. Pleasant. Mt. Pleasant must have many people living here without paying taxes; this is a good place to start to enhance revenues, instead of milking its citizens to no end. Please let me know how I can start these initiatives rolling in the right hands!


Mahatma Gandhi and the Jews
Larry Seftor,

I suppose that given the unspeakable events that occurred during World War II that it is understandable that fifty years later we are still learning about and coming to terms with this history. For example, we are only just learning about the collusion of supposedly neutral factions, the manner in which financial institutions supported and profited from an alliance with Hitler's Germany, and the role of Pope Pius XII in Hitler's rise (in John Cornwell's fascinating book). Given this time of reflection, and in light of the statue of Mahatma Gandhi that is supposed to be placed near Dupont Circle, I think that it is important to consider Gandhi's comments about the Holocaust. In 1946 Gandhi said: “Hitler killed five million [sic] Jews. It is the greatest crime of our time. But the Jews should have offered themselves to the butchers knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs.” When asked: “You mean that the Jews should have committed collective suicide?” He replied: “Yes, that would have been heroism.” Jews may be small in number and may not have a representative in the Mayor's office (as the “Asian and Pacific Islanders” do), but I still believe that this statue is an affront that should be turned away.


Millennial Dreams
Lea Adams,

My goodness, when you threw in the Hawaii/Fiji/Italy option [for the Millennium celebration], I suddenly realized where my heart really is. In DC, daydreaming about freedom, Hawaii, Fiji, Italy and a winning lotto ticket, not necessarily in that order. Oh, yeah, and the song, too.


Books for Prisons
Margaret Yoma Ullman,

I recently saw a request for books, mainly how-tos and biographies, to be donated to people in prison, especially African-Americans. It was either in themail or the Washington Post. I have lost that reference. Yesterday I was given a bag full of just the right kind of books. Can anyone help?



Lorraine Swerdloff,

If you're interested in calligraphy, check out the Washington Calligraphers Guild's CALLIGRAFEST, Saturday, October 16 from 10 to 4 at the Falls Church Community Center, 223 Little Falls St. (From the District go west on Route 66 to Exit 66, Route 7 East, Falls Church. Go one-and-a-half miles on Route 7, then turn left at Little Falls St. The community center is one-and-a-half blocks on the left.) There will be demonstrations throughout the day, including introductory classes at 10:30, 12:15, and 2:15 (for a complete schedule, e-mail me). The works of dozens of calligraphic artists will be for sale, in addition to a complete line of lettering supplies. Admission $5. For more info and a look at what calligraphers are doing these days, see


Free Concert
E. James Lieberman,

The Friday Morning Music Club orchestra, Sylvia Alimena, conductor, will present a concert featuring Dvorak's Symphony No. 8, plus short works by Mendelssohn and Wagner. Sunday, October 17, 7:30 p.m., Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church, 6601 Bradley Blvd., Bethesda. Free, and plenty of free parking.


Mary’s Center Fundraiser
Leslie Sargent,

October 23, 1999: Mary's Center for Maternal and Child Care's 11th Annual Awards Gala and Auction. Mary's Center is a non-profit located in Adams Morgan and serving District residents. Featuring a silent auction, tapas, Samba parade and live music. Black tie and festive mask. Hall of the Americas, Organization of American States, 17th Street and Constitution Ave., N.W., 8:30 pm - 12:30 am. For more information, call Marvin Johnson and Adwoa Spencer (202) 483-8319, ext. 306.



Room in Group House or Studio Apartment Wanted
Julie Makinen,

A friend of mine from Japan is looking for an apartment or room in a group house to rent from December 1999 or January 2000 through December 2000. She would prefer something close to a Red Line Metro stop, such as Tenleytown, Cleveland Park or Silver Spring, or someplace on the H2/H4 bus lines, such as Mount Pleasant. If you know of something $500 or under that is coming available, please let me know. She is a quiet non-smoker with no pets who is studying at Trinity. Her English is passable. Thank you for your help.



Web Page Designer Sought
Jon Katz,

Marks & Katz, LLC, a Silver Spring trial law firm, seeks a web designer to help us launch our first web site. We will consider both part-time and full-time web designers (including students). Please e-mail Jon Katz at



Mary Vogel,

Full bed with firm mattress and box springs — or just the mattress and box springs. I believe in re-use and recycle before I look at brand new. Can you help?


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