Awards for Arts Awards
Dear Arts Appreciators:
I'm going to say something nice about living in DC and about city
government. Don't panic. This is only an aberration, and I won't make a habit of it. On
Monday night, I attended the Mayor's Arts Awards, an annual event sponsored by the DC
Commission on the Arts and Humanities. In prospect, this event didn't seem very promising.
Even aside from being sponsored and produced by a government commission; it was, after
all, an awards program, and they are deadly by definition. But it turned out to be a real
pleasure. Surprisingly, it wasn't an occasion for politicians to praise each other for how
much they had done for the arts. Instead, it highlighted local arts and artists. Nobody
made a long, boring speech. The evening actually moved along at a constant pace.
And the entertainment! Gorgeous jazz vocalist Sunny Sumter sang with a
gorgeous tone; Washington Ballet soloists Ju Hyun Jo and Runqiao Du solved very difficult
human geometry problems set to Stravinsky. And the evening ended with the entire audience
dancing down U Street from the Lincoln Theater to the Reeves Center behind the DC
Caribbean Festival Dancers and the Image Band. DC isn't really a party town; we're not New
Orleans by a long shot. But occasionally we can break out in surprising ways. If a
government agency can lead us dancing down the street, we're not completely lost.
Myopia, Tunnel Vision, and a Pair of Rose-Colored
Larry Seftor, Larry_Seftor@compuserve.com
I have read the replies to Dru Sefton's query about living in DC. Of
particular interest are the postings from long time residents who deign to perform a
competitive assessment with no memory of living elsewhere. As an adult I have lived in the
Mid-West, the Far-West, the South-West, the West Coast, Canada, the DC suburbs, and DC
itself. I believe that the DC metropolitan area is a relatively good place to live, but DC
itself is a poor choice. Everyone has their list of woes (just read themail a
bit); here are a sample of mine.  With a few exceptions the concept of a reverse
commute in the DC area is disappearing. (Just try I66 inbound in the late afternoon
if you doubt.)  Metrorail by its (flawed) design better supports those in the suburbs
who travel to DC rather than the reverse. Because of the size of the investments involved,
this will never change.  Self determination (most visibly through the lack of a vote)
is missing in DC. It does matter after all, people have died for it. The fact that
people in DC say that it doesn't affect them reflects a self-selection process in which
those who care don't live here.  Taxes are higher. Despite claims that nearby MD
suburbs are roughly comparable, I calculated my taxes for both DC and MD last year
(including property taxes), and DC is higher.  Services are either non-existent or
unreliable. (As an example, consider that the MD-based Chevy Chase rescue squad serves
Northwest DC, since DC rescue services are unreliable.)  Services are either
non-existent or unreliable it bears repeating. (As a second example, when parts of
DC and all of the suburbs were plowed in a recent snow storm, my neighborhood was NEVER
plowed. My car was trapped for a week. While Metro riders such as my wife thought this was
quaint, it was a full-blown nightmare for me.) Nevertheless, the postings regarding DC are
helpful in one respect to Dru. They show that it is possible to be quite happy living in
DC. All that is required is myopia, tunnel vision, and a pair of rose-colored glasses.
What I Used to Like About Living in DC
Jean Lawrence, JKelLaw@aol.com
I left DC for Arizona three years ago. Here is what has not faded in
memory: The Zoo at 6:30 am, leafy trails dipping into a sudden coolness like slipping into
a pond of water. The fountain outside the Pan American Union (we used to skinny dip there
in the '60s). Annie's Paramount (gone? I heard that). Poor Roberts bar (gone, for sure).
The Uptown, naturally. And for some benighted reason I cannot explain -- the
Building Museum. That's the weirdest place in DC a building about buildings. I
loved those drifty shows such as The History of Casement Windows and so on. DC
Why I Love Living in DC
Naomi J. Monk, NMonk10501@aol.com
Is there any other place to live other than DC? I do not think so. Where
else can I walk across the street to the Waterside Mall with the Waterfront and
Southeastern University Metro station, Safeway, CVS, banks, cleaners, restaurants and
other stores. Where else can I walk across the street to catch a bus or cab or call and
receive sedan service within several minutes, walk one block to the beautiful Waterfront
walkway along the Potomac, walk one block to the Arena Stage, walk to many different
churches within several blocks, walk a few to several blocks to a number of restaurants on
the Waterfront, the Fish Wharf, the Titanic or Banneker memorials, the L'Enfant Plaza, the
Smithsonian and other museums, to the Post Office, to the library, drive a few blocks to
interstate 395, 270, 66 to MD or VA. Yes, I can walk downtown to the Capitol Mall. The
First District Police Station support is readily available throughout the area and is
located only several blocks away.
Good public schools are within close proximity. There is access to a
number of cable companies and the internet provider: Bell Atlantic direct service line. I
live in a diverse neighborhood where many neighbors know their neighbors and work with the
Southwest Taskforce and other organizations to maintain a viable neighborhood. I am in
hopes that Congress, MD, and VA will pay their fair taxes or costs and support as well as
other states to DC to make DC The Model Capital of the World. DC Mayor Anthony
Williams and other officials cannot do it alone because DC infrastructure is unique.
What He Likes About Maybe Living in DC
Tom Sherwood, Tom.Sherwood@nbc.com
themail I think you should call up fire chief Donald Edwards and
ask him why HE likes living in D.C. NBC4 reported last week that he has a small apartment
at the Rittenhouse on upper 16th Street but a $220,000 home in nearby Adelphi; that his DC
phone number is forwarded to the Maryland address; that he has a Maryland driver's
license, and his car is registered in Maryland. The chief avers that he does pay DC income
taxes, but that seems the extent of his willingness to be a District resident. The Mayor
is investigating and says technical residency is not enough for his cabinet.
Water, Water, Everywhere, Nor Anyone to Think
Steph Keeps her powder dry at least Faul, email@example.com
Monday I spoke with Kathy Patterson's office about the water leak in front
of my house, not to mention its associated pile of dirt. (Yellow subsoil, from the look of
it.) I got a call back from WASA saying they'd get an emergency crew out Tuesday night,
Wednesday at the latest, honest, they were really sorry about this. According to my
calendar, today is Wednesday, it's now too dark to work, and the pile of dirt still stands
in front of my house and the associated stream of water is still gushing a supposedly
valuable substance into the drain. So DC WASA is not only incompetent and wasteful,
they're also liars.
Kathy Patterson's office, on the other hand, called me back to find out if
things had been fixed. I said no.
Lately I've been having problems with my commute to work, not because of
traffic or train delays but because of grooves in the road. I use a wheelchair to get
around and find it next to impossible to navigate over those grooves. I am thinking
particularly of 18th and L, NW but in trying to avoid the possibility of getting stuck in
the road with no way out I traveled down L street as far as 22nd without finding a safe
cross way. I know this must also be inconvenient for those driving cars, but I find it
dangerous and certainly damaging to my wheelchair. These grooves have been there for a
couple weeks now. Anyone have a clue about why they are there? And for so long? Are they
just not thinking of the safety of our citizens with disabilities?
Response to Michele on Taxicab Rules & Regs
Kurt Vorndran, firstname.lastname@example.org
The laws are very clear. The cab must take you to your destination if it
is within DC. As a carless community activist who lives in Upper Northwest and regularly
goes to meetings in all parts of the city, I have had my share of unhappy cabbies. The key
is to enter the cab, sit down and shut the door BEFORE you give your destination. Inform
the driver where you want to go, don't ASK IF they will go to a certain address. Some may
grumble the whole trip but few will tell you to get out once you are in.
I have had situations where the driver keeps the door locked. Before he
can ask where I'm going, I politely ask are you on duty? If the driver still
asks where I am going, I repeat my question once without responding to his question. After
that I move on to find another cab if I don't get cooperation. Hotel lines are a special
case. These cabs are looking for airport trips. I have found hotel management is quite
good about barring non-compliant cabs from their cab stands if the passenger complains.
As a Georgetown resident and active public school parent, (former PTA
President at Hyde Elementary School) I would like to tout some good news about a number of
our public schools. The test results for Hyde and a number of other public elementary
schools are excellent. They show over three quarters of the students are testing
proficient or advanced for both math and reading! The number of students testing below
basic are in the low single digits.
A common misunderstanding about some of these schools, is they attract a
sizable number of students that qualify for free or reduced lunch. The schools also have a
sizable number who have limited English ability. Hyde also boasts 40% out of
boundary students. Why this is important is the common argument against schools like Hyde
and Mann, etc., is that they are west of the park, which was the term former
Mayor for Life Barry used to invoke to fire up Washingtonians of all races. Hardy Middle
School, whose Principal came from Hyde, showed great improvements in all test areas. Both
Hardy and Hyde (among others) prove that small schools work, and children of all
demographics, and from either side of Rock Creek Park, can learn well.
Hopefully Ms. Ackerman and our school board members will use the current
test results to understand why the investment in smaller schools is worthwhile. They work,
and it gives a standard for all DC schools to aim for.
Hearst Elementary and Charter Schools
Michele Rhodes, email@example.com
While Hearst and Paul schools certainly deserve to be hailed, we at Hearst
didn't apply for a charter to shake free from the bonds of DCPS slavedom [Ed
Barron, October 24, themail]. We also don't feel oppressed by the teachers' union. What we
want most of all is to be able to work with the administrative offices and better the
entire school system, as well as making Hearst the best it can be and protecting it from
future closing attempts. Unfortunately this has proven very difficult (often impossible)
and the charter application is just another tool with which to safeguard Hearst if that
should become necessary. Yes, if forced to, we would make Hearst a charter school so that
we can continue this very special program; but not all of us feel that this is either a
first choice or a decision that would necessarily improve Hearst or the rest of the school
Charter Schools AGAIN
Rich Mintz, firstname.lastname@example.org
I recently moved from DC's Logan Circle to Atlanta, into a historic
neighborhood called Grant Park that's transitional in the same way that many
DC neighborhoods are: effectively controlled by prostitutes and drug dealers 15 years ago,
it is now a stable, revitalized community of historic homes, largely inhabited by young
couples (straight and gay) without children. Also like many DC neighborhoods, the
gradually expanding stabilized portion in the center is ringed by rougher patches, which
aspire to become part of the stable middle and, over time, tend to succeed thanks to the
persistent neighborhood commitment of their residents. Atlanta is like DC in other ways,
too: the quality of the schools has declined precipitously, and is now slowly but surely
inching up. In fact, the city is building a brand new elementary school about three blocks
from my house.
Here's my question: the neighborhood association is pushing hard to have
this new school named a charter school from its very first day forward. From a community
building point of view and from a property values point of view, do I want to support or
oppose the idea of a charter school in my neighborhood?
Historic District Designation
Rich Mintz, email@example.com
The City of Atlanta is preparing to designate a historic district
encompassing most of Grant Park (a residential neighborhood mostly built between 1890 and
1910), including my new house, built in 1907. The vast majority of properties in a
neighborhood of roughly 100 square blocks will be included. There is a hearing next week
at which we property owners will be permitted to express our opinions. This sounds like a
good idea to me, so I'm inclined to speak in favor; but from the perspective of those who
live under similar restrictions in the DC area, are there any hidden costs or negatives
that I'm not aware of? I have reviewed the umbrella ordinance and the specific
neighborhood regulations, and they do not appear to impose any restrictions that I would
not have abided by anyway.
I was in Shanghai about 15 years ago; that is being close to each other.
The sidewalks wouldn't hold the pedestrians, so they were in the street too, which pushed
the bicycles to the middle of the street, so the buses didn't have room to get through,
but NOBODY bumped into anyone else. I really don't mind being sort of crowded, IF ONLY
people would be attentive and considerate. The bicycle messenger is a prime example of
inconsiderate. The person in the supermarket whose cart is in the middle of the aisle
blocking people from either direction is an example of inattentiveness. What about a
movement for more civility?
The Ballad of Madame Schumann
Mark David Richards, firstname.lastname@example.org
Panic struck when Madame Jean Schumann of EPA learned of the letter from
the selfish DC Council to the rulers at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, asking for
help to have their civic symbol back. Madame Schumann has nightmares of being trapped at
Waterside Mall (Stuck at Waterside Mall, Washington Post, 10/24/99).
Federal taxpayers, she gasped, will "foot the bill" so DC can buy back its City
Hall, just so they can have it all. What about the schools?, asks Madame
Schumann, who apparently dashes from a hazardous EPA environment to her car to escape the
horrors. She is incensed that she is, in part, paying to kick herself out of her new
office space. She is perturbed that DC's elected officials think City Hall a sacred
cow (after all, under duress, they auction off parts from time to time). Can you hear
Madame Schumann's distress, M. Plotkin? If DC uses all of City Hall, EPA may be stuck at
Waterside Mall! This is the ballad of Madame Schumann, who may suffer for a symbol.
Chorus... DC Council sings of Madame Schumann's Grande sacrifice and grants her a
Certificate of Recognition for extended suffering caused by the turbulence of DC's
struggle to helm a self-governing glass polis on a monster-filled sea. The Mayor proclaims
the day elected officials move in to City Hall full suffrage for DC day. Madame Schumann
gasps in dismay as DC thanks EPA.
Deer in the City
Connie Ridgway, email@example.com
We see deer frequently in our community garden at Newark and 39th Streets
NW, next to Glover Archbald Park. In fact, many of the gardeners now have fences around
their plots because the deer eat things, and I mean EAT. They ate all of our tomatoes and
most of the green beans (we don't have a fence just can't stand the thought). It's
a nuisance but also a fascinating phenomenon it seems that more hawks are in the
city too. I guess they know we won't hurt them, so why not get some food and good shelter
in the city?
I, too, have noticed the appearance of deer within the boundaries of
neighborhoods surrounding Rock Creek Park. Once, I saw a whole family of deer seemingly
sightseeing along Blagden and in someone's front yard. I'm also seeing more and more
opossums (Could it be that all the development going on has caused an onslaught of forest
animals into the "civilized" sections of the city? I worry for them.
Deer Environment in the City
Lea Adams, firstname.lastname@example.org
For you, Greg, 31st Street is a neighborhood. For
the deer, based on hundreds of generations of instinctive memory, it's just another piece
of the Park. And, speaking of the Park, does it occur to any of the supporters of cell
phone towers that, if one feels unsafe in Rock Creek Park for any reason, at any time, one
can choose to stay out of it? The roads through RCP were not designed as thoroughfares,
but as access to the solace and serenity one finds in a relatively unspoiled urban oasis.
What I'm still trying to figure out is why the nightmare I had some 20 years ago in which
people were walking down the street talking on telephones has come true! There was life
before the cellular age; if we are mindful and vigilant, citizens who care can ensure that
the fragile life in DC's limited natural environment will continue to be protected against
the self-serving interests of commerce and the business-friendly community.
Parents Council of Washington Fall Meeting
Peggy Robin email@example.com
The Parents Council of Washington, an organization representing the
parents, faculty, and administrations of 60 Washington area independent schools, is
presenting its fall program on A Practical Focus on Mental Health in the
Family. The speaker is Chris Essex, Co-Director of the Center for Work and the
Family. Georgetown Prep School's Figge Theater, 10900 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda, MD
20852, Tuesday, November 16th, registration at 7 pm; program begins promptly at 7:30 pm.
The program is free and open to all, but a donation of $3 per person or $5 per family
would be appreciated to help support the Parents Council's programs.
Retreat to the Country Near the City
Connie Ridgway, firstname.lastname@example.org
Longview Retreats is a beautiful place just 15 miles south of DC, on the
river with a view of the Washington Monument and Mt. Vernon. This Saturday, October 30, 10
am - 4 pm, is "The Creative Spirit," a workshop for women on nurturing
creativity. $50. Bring your lunch. We'll provide snacks and beverages. And prepare to see
bald eagles and lots of other wildlife. On Saturday, November 13, 9 am to 12 noon, come
for a morning of Creative Wellness, a combination of qi gong (a Chinese
healing art), guided imagery with music and artwork. Cost is $30. Contact me to register
at email@example.com or call 202-966-1485.
CLASSIFIEDS FOR SALE
'98 Winnebago Brave, 32' long, 13K miles, sleeps 5, master suite/queen
bed, full bath, heated basement storage, am/fm stereo/CD player, 2 phones, 10" color
TV, CB radio, 2 AC's, 3 burner gas stove/oven, microwave, refrig/freezer/icemaker, 85
gallon fresh water, neutral tan interior. $54,500. Ann Bond, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Seeking Company that Prints Pens, etc.
Jon Katz, email@example.com
My law firm seeks a company that will print our name on pens, coffee cups,
and other products. Do you know of a place that does a good job at a fair price? Thanks. http://www.markskatz.com
Looking for a Handyman
Judith Turner, firstname.lastname@example.org
I am trying to find someone who will take down a room divider and lift and
haul carpeting away, install ceiling fixtures, install a complicated (well, to me!) front
and back doorbell, fix a ceiling, etc. If you've had good experiences and want to share,
please let me know.
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