Bury My Head in the Swamp
Dear Swamp Dwellers:
I best remember Pogo and Albert, two of the other great swamp dwellers of
the twentieth century, for two classic lines. After what I think of as weeks of following
the enemy's tracks through Okefenoke, Pogo finally realized that he had been walking in a
circle and tracing his own footsteps, and he proclaimed: We has met the enemy, and
they is us. And, in a quintessential summary of the ubiquity of bad luck, he noted,
Friday the thirteenth falls on a Wednesday this month. Tell me, if you know,
did Walt Kelly ever live in DC?
And, my children, if those references strike you as dim echoes of a
forgotten past, blame it on your teachers, who no longer teach the classics of the Western
Finally, something on which Beth Solomon and I disagree. The site, a
former mosquito driven swamp, is a perfectly appropriate location to honor those who
fought against fascism and for freedom and democracy. What do the purists ultimately want?
Bury our heads in the swamp or bring back the horse and covered wagon?
Why has there been so little discussion about designating the Iwo Jima
Memorial as the official World War II Memorial? Granted, it refers to a particular battle,
and one in the Pacific at that, but I imagine that many Americans view that image as
symbolic of W.W.II. For those who don't, would it be impractical to come up with an
architectural plan that would expand the lower section of the site to incorporate other
aspects of W.W.II? I could see an arc of columns similar to those envisioned for the Mall,
with the flag raising statue still dominating the overall site. Parking already exists at
Iwo Jima, unlike the Mall site, plus having the W.W.II memorial outside the monumental
core on the Mall would meet the recently stated objective of getting more monuments and
memorials into local communities.
District Government Reorganization
Michael Bindner, email@example.com
Comments about the problems in DPW and DC Rec in the last issue underscore
the serious need for a complete reorganization of the District government, which harkens
back to the days of Mayor Washington. The first thing that is needed is a separate
Department of Sanitation, taking over the mowing and trash removal functions of both DPW
and Rec. Most cities have separate departments for this; we should too. Sanitation
inspection of businesses and the streets and sidewalks associated with them should go to
the Health Department.
Housing and Community Development and Consumer and Regulatory Affairs are
also dysfunctional. A Department of Community Services should take over housing inspection
and rent administration from DCRA and most DHCD non-economic development functions.
My son renewed his license in 20 minutes at the H Street NE Community
service center this past winter, and I took his advice and a few weeks ago did the same
it's hiding behind Murry's Steaks in the 600 block of H Street NE and is open from
11-6:30 or so there's free parking, staff people were incredibly nice, there were
no lines, and I was delighted to get a new license quickly and efficiently, with pleasant
staff and no hassles.
This is a short analysis for those of us who are having difficulties
understanding what ethnicity/ race is about here in the colony of DC. The intersection of
class and color is most confusing here because there are very few if any lower working
class whites here; almost all of the whites that are here came
from somewhere else where they themselves or some one that looked like them had some level
of control of the politics and economics, and the community was not under multiple attacks
from businesses, federal government, and other local governments. Most of the
blacks are working class or lower and at this time may be from somewhere else
too (note: I am not speaking in terms of pay check amounts) but there is still a large
group of native born working class and lower working class blacks here that
have suffered from a lot of white supremacy and oppression. But one of the crucial
differences is that all of the blacks have been under attack by various groups
and powers their entire lives and very few, if any, have been in charge or even close to
being in total charge of the politics and economics anywhere. Therefore lots of things are
seen differently by these two groups that hardly if ever have these discussions (with one
exception I will speak of later). Now it is clear that skin pigmentation is not the only
criterion; there are those with black skins that have the same class disdain of poor and
working folks as some with white skins, but because this is DC in america, class and color
are very twisted together in the common American psyche and "color" mostly every
social, economic, and political idea or action. Now for that exception that I noted
earlier, the D.C. Statehood Green Party is consciously aware and addresses this problem
constantly. To use a phrase from the now deceased Jimmy Gray, a.k.a. Blackfire from radio
station WPFW, Resist that ignorance, especially your own! Well, we strive to
do just that, and any of you that want to make real changes in this colony from an
enlightened angle I suggest that you resist that ignorance and join the DC
Statehood Green Party.
Am I Color Blind?
Ed T. Barron, firstname.lastname@example.org
Is it my eyes or are the Yellow Cabs in the District painted
orange? In the city I moved from, the Big Apple, Yellow Cabs are bright yellow, like
lemons. Here in the District the Yellow Cabs are as Orange as an orange can
get. Maybe the cab company owner is color blind.
I must report the opposite frustration with the tree folks in
DC government. We have a 50 percent dead tree in front of our house, but the
city won't take it down. It has a huge hole at the base and had begun to lean. We are all
afraid it will fall on someone or something someday without warning this happened
two years ago with a tree across the street. Fortunately, it was 4 a.m., so no one was
hurt, but it could have been a real tragedy. We did have some success after that getting
completely dead trees taken down, but it seems the city is pretty arbitrary in deciding
what to cut. On a happier note, the District has been planting new trees on neighborhood
parkways to replace many of the ones that have died.
Remember as a child how you were always getting "shushed" in the
library because you were giggling or talking too loudly? Well, apparently that is not just
a childhood trait. On Monday evening I went to MLK Library to do some studying for my law
class. I had to go to four different rooms before I could find a spot that was relatively
quiet. In one space, I sat there and listened to a library employee, using a regular
speaking voice, talk to someone on the phone about plans for Friday night. His talking
seemed to validate the same for a group of girls sitting around at the computers laughing
and giggling and another group of young students around a table talking like they were in
the school cafeteria. Please do not misunderstand, I like to socialize and have fun, but
the library is not the place. I wish library employees would better enforce what I thought
was understood, and that is the quiet rule in the library.
The Perils of Pedestrianism
Randi Rubovits-Seitz, email@example.com
I do not disagree with what H. Finer has to say about drivers. Pedestrians
also have a responsibility, however, to cross only with the light, at marked corners, etc.
The multitudes who cross irrespective of the signals, often without a glance left or
right, or who dodge cars mid-block, or who stand in mid-street with moving traffic in
front and behind, or pass among cars waiting at a light, are doing nothing to encourage
the good-will of drivers, and are putting the responsibility squarely on themselves for
promoting situations dangerous to themselves and others.
Dear Mr. Finer: I've long imagined a spray paint option, but I hate the
idea of being arrested. I agree frequently drivers are out of control and downright
pushy, and my armor is not equal to theirs. At Calvert and Connecticut, where a car that
flew on to the sidewalk tragically killed the two pedestrians, drivers are out of control.
And a new structure that will surely require more patience among drivers is well underway.
A month or so ago, a woman who evidently got bumped off the road by a driver sent a
parking meter flying through the air as she aimed between two parked cars toward the
sidewalk, but thank God nobody was at the bank machine where she finally stopped her car.
Between this and manhole cover explosions, I suppose our urban residents will be
measurably thinner than suburban neighbors.
Millennial Gateway Proposed at Southern Tip of D.C.
Douglas A. Willinger, Takoma Park Highway Design Studio, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Alexandria Orb would provide far greater social benefits than the FHWA
Route 1 interchange design, better for pedestrians and motorists, while costing a fraction
of the full river tunnel option that was rejected for cost considerations. Nonetheless,
the Alexandria Orb, unlike the tunnel and ten-lane bridge options, has not been formally
considered by the decision making bodies.
The Alexandria Orb home page may be seen at:
Pre-Civil War Washington's Plantation Culture,
Africans, and a Novel Venture in America
Mark Richards, Dupont East, email@example.com
Gibbs Myers writes that D.C. became an inland frontier, subject to a
more intensive colonization than it had know in the old tobacco-planting days
(Pioneers in the Federal Area, Records of the Columbia Historical Society,
1943). He describes groups who moved to the federal district . . . adventurers, promoters,
idealists . . . architects, engineers, mechanics, laborers, clerks, inn keepers,
tradesmen, menials . . . members of Congress, the Administration, international diplomatic
agents, officers of the military. And says these outlanders who only
composed but a sparse sprinkling of the total population were testing
this novel American venture that was D.C. By 1850 (census), most residents
came from D.C. (50 percent) and nearby Maryland and Virginia (30 percent), to which Myers
attributed Washington's provincial air. A significant number were born in
other U.S. areas (9 percent), and other countries (11 percent). The founders had expected
all states would take an equal share and interest in the development of the Federal
City, and had hoped by this joint national undertaking to add one more stimulus to their
drive toward a firmer Union and a stronger national feeling. But, the first
Congress created a community which was more attractive to plantation neighbors than to
cosmopolites and national-minded citizens. Myers claims that because the area became
"a provincial resort monopolized by a Maryland and Virginia plantation gentry,
other states would not consent to the use of the public purse for the
aggrandizement of the federal district.
Myers says the Irish made the largest noise during most of the 19th
century, with England, Scotland, and Wales next in numbers, followed by Germans
mid-century. The British were merchants, ran private schools, worked in government.
Germans tended to be artisans, machinists, engravers, and other skilled craftsmen, or set
up small shops and taverns. Prominent and well educated international figures sometimes
married the native gentry, contributing to the cultural base and adding to
plantation folkways of capital city life. Timid local rural folks, who would
have gone to Baltimore, Richmond, or Philadelphia, came to D.C. (a good number of
Pennsylvanians came to D.C.). D.C. had a large black population, mostly coming from
Maryland and Virginia (about 13 percent born in D.C.). Myers says Washington
inhabitants of local or nearby origin served as guides and hosts to the settlers who came
from more distant parts, introducing them to the provincial life of the region and
indoctrinating them with its cultural precepts. Already on the scene were gentlemen of the
planter class who kept mansions or owned lands without the area which became the federal
district. . . . Here the proudest families of the surrounding countryside maintained a
leading role in fashionable circles, entertaining friends and strangers, converting the
winter months into carnival seasons of pleasures and gayeties -- and occasionally
strengthening their bonds with the federal area by intermarriage with members of the
official and diplomatic sets. Charles Lee, for example, gave ten daughters to
adorn the capital city's drawing rooms and levees. The federal area took on a
decidedly Southern culture.
Most early discussions of Washington's population excluded lower
groups from notice. A few observers developed classifications. Anne Royall saw four
groups: (1) negros, slave or free, lower-class whites-laborers, mechanics, and
indentured servants; (3) the middle class-trades-people, shop- and inn-keepers, and the
lesser employees of government, and (4) the upper class-higher federal officials, members
of Congress, foreign diplomats, members of the military and naval set, leading business
and professional men, and the native gentry of planters and proprietors. About the
Negro Myers says: The burden of drudgery which he bore freed white
society for the practice of more inviting pursuits. By 1840, there were 4,806 free
Negroes and 1,713 slaves. D.C. society didn't need the institution of slavery: the
Negro in Washington might just as well have been free as in bondage so long as his
numbers did not make his presence too formidable. There was a fear of uprisings, so
Congress gave local whites authority to implement black codes. Slaves could have
their ears cropped for petty assault on a white, could be branded with the letter R for
running away, or could be drawn and quartered as a punishment for murder or arson.
Free Negroes were prohibited from idle assemblages, playing at cards or dice,
selling liquor, keeping a tavern, or going at large later than ten o'clock at night
without a permit. In 1829, the American Anti-Slavery Society held its convention in
Washington, and the mayor offered the use of City Hall without upsetting locals. Lower
class whites came from north Europe peasant and lower-class stocks. They were
not confined to specific neighborhoods, and their shanties stood in all areas, but many
lived near Navy Yard and in Georgetown. Ann Royall complained in 1832 that a gang of
low drunken Irish infested Capital Hill. The competition between Africans in America
and the laborers kept both in low status and led to tension between the two groups.
The plight of the poor in early Washington was pitiful, and the care of them was one
of the city's major problems (and highest budget item). Royall wrote, They
thrown a few cents to the poor wretches, and there is an end of it for that time.
Myers said, Society in Washington never approached becoming democratic,
despite the influence of President Jackson's doctrine of the triumphant West.
Despite the more or less just ridicule which was heaped on their city by visitors
foreign and domestic, these people felt an intense loyalty to their home community and
strove consistently to improve its prosperity.
It would be criminal to take away a woman's right to choose. Please think
before you vote. Democracy is what this country was founded upon.
I cannot in recent memory remember anything to admire about the D.C.
Council, but Jim Graham's work yesterday did a lot to turn around my opinion. In staving
off a Catholic church move to gut a new law on providing contraceptives, Mr. Graham did
the right thing for the right reasons. For those who might be confused by the church's
rhetoric, Catholic religious freedom was never endangered. Catholics can continue to
abstain from the use of contraceptives. What the church cannot do is to force its
religious dogma on its non-Catholic employees in essence, the law ensures freedom
of religion for non-Catholic employees of Catholic institutions.
The more fundamental issue, however, is what separation of church and
state really means. There is a natural tension between the Catholic Church and any
non-Catholic government, because the scope of Catholic doctrine sometimes overlaps with
general societal principles. In such cases Catholics apparently believe that they should
be immune from living within the community standards that all citizens and institutions
must respect. (If you believe that this should be so, consider whether some of the more
flamboyant religious rituals of history would be allowed in modern America even
under the banner of freedom of religion.) The fact is that I, and many other citizens of
D.C., are not Catholic. It is highly offensive when Catholics try to impose Catholic
doctrine on non-Catholics by lobbying Government. It impinges on the rights of
freedom of and freedom from religion. Separation of church and
state is good, and the Catholic church should not work to undermine it. Bravo Mr. Graham.
Its Goin Around
Ed T. Barron, firstname.lastname@example.org
The number of diagnosed cases of prostate cancer in men over fifty has
dramatically risen each year over the last several years. This doesn't necessarily mean
that the cancer rate is rising. Some, perhaps much, of the increase in diagnosed cases can
certainly be attributed to the higher percentage of males getting periodic tests as well
as the testing methods themselves (notably the PSA test). Being diagnosed is only the
first step. The next major hurdle is selecting (or not selecting) a treatment option. Many
factors come into play here, among them, age, virility of the cancer, and stage at first
detection. There are a substantial number of treatment options, from baking, freezing,
surgery, radioactive seeds, radiation, to chemically treating the disease.
Each and all of these treatment options has a benefit component (nominally
the opportunity to prolong one's life) along with risk components (the side and after
effects of any treatment). Choosing the right treatment becomes a real dilemma for many of
those diagnosed, since there is no clear cut treatment that will do everything for
everyone. The best one can do is to arm one's self with all the information available and
to seek good advice from more than one specialist in different treatment options. When I
faced this dilemma over four years ago I did my homework and concluded that surgery
offered the best choice for a guy still south of his 60th birthday and desiring to live a
normal life span (or longer). I would make that same choice today. Much more recently I
read the most comprehensive article about the disease, treatment options, and the downside
effects of treatment options that I have found since my diagnosis. It is mandatory reading
for anyone diagnosed with prostate cancer. The ten page article is entitled The Prostate
Paradox and appeared in the 29 May edition of the New Yorker Magazine. For those
males over fifty who have not been getting tested for this disease, it is timely to get
CLASSIFIEDS CITY PAPER PREVIEW
Dave Nuttycombe, email@example.com
From washingtoncitypaper.com's LOOSE LIPS column, appearing this Friday:
FOUR OR AGAINST: On a recent campaign swing through a middle-class section of Ward 4, D.C.
Council candidate Adrian Fenty discovered that self-introductions are often
unnecessary. As he alighted on the front stoop of Kansas Avenue resident Corine Gartrell,
Fenty barely had time to extend his hand before Gartrell declared, We're expecting
great things from you, young man. Gartrell noted that she'd already received Fenty's
campaign literature and even borrowed a line from the candidate's platform for the Sept.
12 Democratic primary: It's time for a change for Ward 4, said Gartrell.
The Corine Gartrells of Ward 4 have a lot to say about their current rep, incumbent
Councilmember Charlene Drew Jarvis. They say that Jarvis comes around on schedule
once every four years because her second job as president of Southeastern
University has removed her from the community.
Read the entire Loose Lips column here: http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/lips/lips.html
From washingtoncitypaper.com's CITY LIGHTS page, here are a few early
warnings for upcoming events:
WEDNESDAY: Ed The Runaway Locke and 1958 Massachusetts State Trooper of Year
Richard J. Clemens share their stories about sitting for America's most American painter,
Norman Rockwell, at 7 p.m. at the Corcoran Museum of Art, 500 17th St. NW. $16.
WEDNESDAY: Write Your Children's Picture Book (and Get It Published!) At 7 p.m. at
First Class Inc., 1726 20th St. NW. $37.
More details and more critics' picks are available online at http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/pix/pix.html
More Save It: Save The Tivoli
Darrell Duane, firstname.lastname@example.org
Come to Heaven to raise some Hell and some funds for Save the Tivoli! Come
join Capital Action for its 3rd Annual Summer Fund Raising Party at Club Heaven in Adams
Morgan on Thursday, July 13, from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. Club Heaven is located at 2327 18th
St. NW. Local band Nick Dastardly and the Escape Artists will help you get your groove on!
Come for Happy Hour, and then stick around until Club Heaven starts cranking out the '80's
tunes. You'll get $1.00 off every drink during the happy hour. $6.00 at the door will
benefit Save the Tivoli, Inc., http://www.savethetivoli.org,
a historic theater preservation effort, and Greater D.C. Cares, http://www.dc-cares.org. For more information, please
Footlights DC's only drama discussion group meets monthly to
discuss plays from the modern theater. Participation is free. On Wednesday, July 19, we
will discuss Time and the Conways (1937), by British playwright J.B.
Priestley. Part family chronicle, part exploration of a philosophy of time, Time and
the Conways begins in 1919, just after the Great War; leaps to 1938, just
before the next War (as one character predicts); then returns to 1919. Time
Magazine found the play poetic and revelatory, The Times (of
London) called it accurate and perceptive, and The Times Literary
Supplement considered it chilling yet compassion[ate]. Our
discussion takes place 7:30-9:30 p.m. (dinner at 6:30) at Delray Vietnamese Garden, 4918
Del Ray Ave., a few blocks north of Bethesda metro. For reservations E-mail email@example.com or call 638-0444. For
a copy of the play go to Backstage Books, 545 8th St., SE (ask for the Footlights
discount). For discount tickets to the Sunday, July 16 matinee performance (at Theater J,
1529 16th St., NW) of our June play, Collected Stories, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 301-897-9314. And
for more information go to http://www.footlightsdc.org.
Notice of ANC Meeting
Ruthanne Miller, Chair, ANC 3C, RGM55@aol.com
ANC 3C's next public meeting will be on July 17, at 7:30 p.m., at the
Second District Police Station. This meeting is instead of the meeting originally
scheduled for July 24th. Please note that the agenda includes ANC 3C's consideration of
Youth for Understanding's intent to seek legislative relief from leasing restrictions set
forth in the Real Property Tax Exemption Act of 1992 and a forum on Giant's
Application to the District of Columbia Zoning Commission for a Consolidated Planned Unit
Development and Map Amendment.
CLASSIFIEDS HELP WANTED
Martha Saccocio, Marthans2@aol.com
We are looking for a regular Saturday night babysitter for our two young
children. $10/hour. Anyone interested, please E-mail me at MarthaNS2@aol.com
CLASSIFIEDS FOR SALE
Castro Convertible standard-size sleep sofa, in perfect condition. (Slept
on four times.) $100 plus you must provide the muscle power to haul it down a
flight of steps from my apartment and then a flight from the entrance of my building to
ground level. It went up in December, so I know it can come down. Call 547-7197.
Wilson Profile Tennis Racquet
Laurie England, Topspindc@aol.com
Wilson Profile tennis racquet. In good condition, mid-size, 4 3/8 grip,
with strings, extra grommets and cover. Retails for $99, sale price $55 or best offer.
E-mail to the address above.
FYI to Inquiring Minds: Phil Shapiro pointed themailers to the Cleveland
Freenet and CapAccess for online library reference service, when there's great help for
readers right here at the Fairfax County Public Library's online Ask a
Librarian service: http://www.co.fairfax.va.us/library/asklib.htm.
I think this was covered about a year ago but I never heard the result. I
am looking for cheap Spanish groups: discussion, class, English-Spanish trade, whatever. I
am afraid of losing my Spanish which is already pretty shaky as is. Being unemployed I
would like to keep costs down. Any ideas? If you send them to me I can compile the
suggestions and post them in one list for future reference.
themail@dcwatch is an E-mail discussion forum that is published every
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