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November 10, 2002

A Book of Verses

Dear Philosophers:

There is a venerable joke about two elderly ladies complaining about the food at their Catskills resort. “It's terrible,” says the first, “it's either bland and tasteless, or it tastes bad.” “Yes,” agrees the second, “and the portions are too small.” Today, for the first time since I was a teenager, I reread the Edward Fitzgerald translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, both the first and fifth editions and also the rearrangement of the quatrains by the American artist Elihu Vedder for his illustrated edition. Omar Khayyam has much the same complaint as the Catskills ladies. Life is meaningless and pointless, his poems say, and it's also too brief. But Khayyam finds comfort in the fact that life can also be pleasurable, and when it isn't pleasurable at least there's wine for solace. As Khayyam's poetry, Fitzgerald's translation, and Vedder's illustrations prove, there's also beauty. Wisdom lies in finding enjoyment in, as the most famous verse says, “A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,/ A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread — and Thou/ Beside me singing in the Wilderness —/ Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!” It's an attractive philosophy, most amusingly conveyed in one of the lesser known verses: “You know, my friends, with what a brave Carouse/ I made a second marriage in my house./ Divorced old barren Reason from my Bed,/ And took the Daughter of the Vine to Spouse.” The Rubaiyat is available on the net in various translations on several sites, and the Vedder version is available in a wonderful rendition of the National Museum of American Art's exhibit at

Gary Imhoff


Comcast Is Useless
Bob Levine,

As of 6 p.m. Friday night my cable service has been out for thirty hours. I've made so many calls to Comcast's service line that I've lost count. The service line is deliberately difficult to navigate. You have to put in your phone number and when the representative picks up the first thing that is asked is your phone number, the information is not carried through. I have been lied to so much I feel like I’ve been talking to used car salesmen. The last promise was that my service would be on at 5 p.m., and it’s now 6. Want to bet I don’t have cable over the weekend. I’ll let you know. Does anybody know if this is a regulated business. Is there anybody in Government I can complain to because Comcast doesn’t care a bit about restoring service. You pay fees to these people and they don’t care if they provide the service you paid for or not. What a rip off.


And Another One Gets Away
Ed T. Barron, edtb@aoldotcom

Well we missed a great opportunity to land an experienced and proven Police Commissioner named William Bratton. Formerly in that job in New York, Bratton made a very viable police force out of a chaotic situation that had prevailed for years. Under Bratton's guidance and leadership the New York City police force became very organized and effective both in solving and in preventing crimes in a city that is about ten times larger than our town. Bratton has an ego about the size of Rhode Island, but he came up against Mayor Guiliani, another New York hero, who has an ego about the size of Arizona. Bratton left and was readily available for work in DC, but was ignored. he now is taking over the reins of the police force in the land of Looney Tunes, LA. Hard to believe that a New York City kid like Bratton would have turned down any decent offer to stay on the East Coast. So, another good one gets away.

And by my reckoning, Sunday, the 10th of November, is the day that all signs from the primary election must be removed or face a $50 per day per sign fine. I hope that law is enforced we might just be able to balance the budget with all the money pouring in. In my limited travels as a Patterson volunteer, I helped in pulling down all of Kathy Patterson's signs this weekend. In my travels I counted eleven Eric Gaull signs and four Beverly Wilbourne signs. I'm sure there are many more from the primary election. Let's see how fast the signs can be pulled down for those who were candidates in the general election.

Perhaps the best way to ensure that all signs are removed it would make sense for every one of the candidates for election to pony up $100 of their campaign funds. These bucks would be used to hire some folks (anybody but those who collected petition signatures for Tony Williams) to pull down all signs the day after the general election day across the city.


Thoughts About Comparing General Elections
Richard Layman, Northeast DC,

Just a couple comments about Dorothy Brizill's post about ever declining numbers of voters in DC's mayoral elections. These are just thoughts, not facts. 1) DC elections would have greater turnouts if mayoral elections were coincident with presidential elections. 2) DC elections would have greater turnout if we had voting representation in Congress and voted for those positions (other than Delegate) as well. 3) In a city with a large transient population, it's hard to get people focused and voting in DC elections (this is a phenomenon common to college towns — once Ann Arbor switched its local elections from the spring to be coincident with the state/federal elections, student turnout and overall turnout increased dramatically). 4) I used to say in college that “you don't train people in relatively authoritarian school systems for 13-17 years and expect them upon graduation to become active, free thinking, participating members of society.” People have to feel as if they, and their vote, matter. Many people don't.


Correction in Percentages for the At-Large Race
Connie Ridgway, Phil's proud spouse,

The Washington Post (as well as themail and the Board of Elections) reported that Phil Mendelson received 47 percent of the vote, and that in no ward did he receive more than 50 percent of the vote. However, Phil actually received votes from 67.75 percent of the voters, Catania received 39.22 percent. and Kinlow received 13.19 percent. This is due to the fact that we could vote for two at-large candidates. The percentages used by the [Board of Elections] are based on the total number of votes cast for the at-large position (182,721), not the total number of people voting (126,964). In every other race — mayor, council chair, etc. — the percentages are based on total number of voters. Indeed, Phil received 10,000 more votes than the Mayor — 86,023 vs. 76,074 — yet it's reported that Williams got 60.59 percent of the vote

Just wanted to correct a perception (was it just I who thought this?) that the Post was saying Phil didn't get a majority of votes in the city for At-Large Councilmember. 67.75 percent is more like a supermajority.

[Since voters have a choice of voting for two at-large councilmembers, “bullet voting” for just one, or abstaining from the at-large race entirely, I'd argue that reporting the vote as either the percentage of voters or of total votes is somewhat misleading. However, I'd agree with Connie that reporting the vote as the percentage of voters gives a more accurate impression of the actual support for candidates. — Gary Imhoff]


Absentee Ballots
Adam Marshall,

I can only commiserate with those who didn’t receive their absentee ballots for the general election — another major coup for the Board of Elections and Ethics. I have lived in Britain for the past two and a half years, and have now suffered through two electoral cycles of BOEE incompetence. To wit: I requested absentee ballots for both the primary and general elections in a letter which I sent to BOEE in August, duly signed. My absentee ballot for the September primary cycle arrived here one day before the primary election itself; I returned it anyway, as I knew it would be counted even if it was too late to affect the results. But BOEE had another trick up its sleeve — no general election ballot was ever sent to me. Three phone calls to BOEE last week (“you need to speak to Mrs. XYZ”) resulted in my being transferred to a line with no seeming owner and no voice mail system. I encountered similar problems in the 2000 election cycle, although my general election ballot did by some miracle reach me in time (two days before the election).

This is the first election in which I have not voted since I reached voting age six years ago. It is disillusioning that the desire to complete one’s civic duty, no matter the distance or the cost (over 4 pounds to return the ballot!), can be so callously trumped by inefficiency. Thank God I live in a colony — if I lived in a state with House and Senate races in play yesterday, I would have been powerless to register my vote and try to prevent the tragedy that has now befallen us in Congress.


DCBOEE Incompetent
Eric Lashner,

The DCBOEE was unprepared for the 2002 ANC elections with new redistricting. Not only did they not have a list of registered voters, but when voters came to the polls they were given the wrong ballots. Georgetown University students have been gerrymandered into a few different districts this past election. Students registered in different dorms vote in different ANC SMDs. However the poll workers had no idea which dorms belonged in which SMD and numerous voters voted in the wrong SMD. It was gross incompetence on the Board's part and unfair to voters trying to cast a ballot in their correct SMD. When voters tried to change their ballot they were sometimes harassed by poll watchers and others. Only after we called the BOEE and complained another two times was anything done to correct the situation.


History and Politics
David Sobelsohn, dsobelsoatcapaccessdotorg

Mark David Richards, a usually reliable chronicler of DC political history, wrote in last Wednesday's themail that “Republicans last controlled the Presidency, the Senate, and the House of Representatives 48 years ago, from 1953-54.” I know the general media are repeating this error, so Mark's not alone. But actually Republicans last controlled the Presidency, the Senate, and the House of Representatives two years ago, from January-May 2001, until Jim Jeffords left the Republican Party, throwing control of the Senate to the Democrats. Of course, since those months were early in the current Bush presidency, they were much less dangerous than the next two years will be.


Nigerian Scam Update
Clare Feinson,

For everyone who has ever gotten one of these ubiquitous scam letters, promising untold millions in exchange for upfront fees, Michelle Singletary's column in the Washington Post last Thursday was particularly interesting. The US Secret Service is developing a database of all the different versions of this scam, which it is sharing with other law enforcement agencies. You can simply forward any scam letters you get to The link to the article in the Post is

If you lost money on one of these scams, it is still worthwhile filing a complaint with the FBI's Internet Fraud Complaint Center at, but that is somewhat of a long, involved process. If all you want to do is register annoying E-mail with the authorities, it is much easier to forward it to the Secret Service.


Klingle Road
Jack McKay,

Yes, I hear the groans — not Klingle Road again! We have all wanted this ill-tempered dispute to vanish. But it is still a hot-button issue, as a number of my soon-to-be constituents (I'll be on the Mount Pleasant ANC, come January) made clear to me. The debate has been remarkably polarized, as one side has demanded that the road of old be fully restored, the other that it be fully closed. Would the disputants be receptive to a compromise solution? Begin with the Berger Report Option G: a one-lane, one-way road, and a parallel bike/pedestrian lane, together no wider than the existing roadway. The road would be one-way westbound most of the day, reversing to eastbound during the afternoon rush. The Berger Report predicts that the peak traffic load would be about 280 vehicles per hour, which is not a lot, and my observations here, on Park Road, indicate that for most of the day the traffic is only half the rush hour peak.

Let us specify further that the road would be subject to the same limitations as Beach Drive, namely no trucks, and no commercial vehicles. One more provision: let the road be closed to all motor vehicles on weekends. The commuters would thus have the cross-town route they want, at the times that they want it. On weekends, when recreation is most useful, the road would be a quiet pedestrian and bicycle route. The environmental impact would be minor, because the width of the roadbed would be no greater than at present. The bike/hike segment would provide everyday recreational access, albeit with traffic noise on weekdays. No traffic, nor traffic noise, would be imposed on residents above Klingle on weekends, when people are most commonly at home. Such a compromise works for Beach Drive, and it could be made to work for Klingle Road as well.


Keep Klingle Open
Laurie Collins,

We are pleased to announce that the American Lung Association of the District of Columbia (ALADC) joins a long list of supporters of the Coalition to Repair and Reopen Klingle Road. ALADC has reviewed the MCV Associates' transportation and environmental cost benefit analysis and assessment and finds it to be a “credible report,” and are concerned by its findings that closing Klingle Road leads to significant increase in toxic emissions. “We all know how bad traffic congestion is in our city. Sitting in traffic is not only bad for your nerves, but also for the environment. When exhaust from your car mixes with sunlight, it can combine to form ground-level ozone, a serious air pollutant and cause of respiratory disease. Since the barricading of Klingle Road, thousands of cars have been forced onto other, more congested roads, forcing them to sit idling in traffic. Repairing and reopening Klingle Road will reduce air pollution, lessen traffic congestion, and improve the quality of life in our community,” says Rolando Andrewn, ALADC Executive Director. Visit our web site at and join our growing list of supporters.


November 2002 InTowner
Peter Wolff,

This is to advise that the November 2002 on-line edition has been uploaded and may be accessed at Included are the lead stories, community news items and crime reports, editorials (including prior months' archived), restaurant reviews (prior months' also archived), and the text from the ever-popular “Scenes from the Past” feature. Also included are all current classified ads. The complete issue (along with prior issues back to July 2001) also is available in PDF file format by direct access from our home page at no charge simply by clicking the link provided. Here you will be able to view the entire issue as it looks in print, including the new ABC Board actions report, all photos and advertisements.

The next issue will publish on December 13. The complete PDF version will be posted by early that Friday morning, following which the text of the lead stories, community news, and selected features will be uploaded shortly thereafter. To read this month's lead stories, simply click the link on the home page to the following headlines: 1) “Heurich Mansion Sale Seen Affected by Interior Landmarking, Proceeds Needed for City Museum Move to Work”; 2) “Adams Morgan History to Get Spotlight, 'Heritage Trail' Will Tell the Story”; 3) “Historic Building's Interior Restoration Takes Center Stage”; 4) “Shaw Neighborhood Backdrop for 'Washington Interns Gone Bad' Film.”



“The American Porch,” November 12
Mary Rowse,

On Tuesday, November 12, at 7:30 p.m., local author Michael Dolan will discuss “The American Porch,” the title of his new book that examines the important role porches have played in architecture, politics, film, literature, photography and pop culture from ancient Greece to modern times. Dolan will document the rise, fall and return of the porch as a place of importance in the American home. His presentation will feature slides of Washington porches and images from his book, which will be available for sale.

This free lecture will take place at the Chevy Chase Community Center, 5601 Connecticut Avenue, NW, (at the corner of Connecticut Avenue and McKinley Street, NW). It is sponsored by Historic Washington Architecture, a newly formed nonprofit dedicated to researching our citywide architectural heritage and presenting educational programs about it to the public. For more information, please contact Mary Rowse,, or 362-9279.


Janney Elementary School Book Sale, November 16
Patricia Chittams,

Janney Elementary School will be holding a used book sale on Saturday, November 16, at the school, from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. There will also be a new book fair from Wednesday through Saturday, November 16. Please help us supplement the funds given to Janney by DCPS.


Developing an Enduring Brand, November 16
Barbara Conn,

Drawing on cognitive psychology, marketing research, and business strategy, speaker Janine Carey will describe the five elements of a successful brand and present a road map for the development of an enduring brand. Janine Carey founded and is president of The Mkt. Group, Inc., a full-service marketing firm. A frequent speaker/lecturer at industry events and universities, Janine has won more than a dozen awards for her work in management consulting, strategic marketing, brand development, and marketing communications.

Gather your questions, friends, and colleagues, and bring them to the Saturday, November 16, 1:00 p.m. (check-in: 12:50 p.m.), meeting of the Capital PC User Group (CPCUG) Entrepreneurs and Consultants Special Interest Group (E&C SIG) at the Cleveland Park Library (Second Floor Large Meeting Room), 3310 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, just a block and a half south of the Cleveland Park Metrorail station, half a block south of the Cineplex Odeon Uptown movie theater.

Meetings of the CPCUG Entrepreneurs and Consultants SIG are free and are held each month. For more information about this presentation, the speaker, CPCUG (a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization), and its E&C SIG, and to register for this and/or future SIG meetings, visit


Oyster School Book Fair, November 18
David Pansegrouw,

The Oyster Bilingual Elementary School is hosting its Annual Bilingual Holiday Book Fair from November 18th through November 23rd. This event features wonderful books in English and Spanish from over 100 publishers and presents students, parents and teachers with a golden opportunity to see the latest works by popular authors and illustrators for children. Don't miss this exciting Bilingual Book Fair coming to Oyster School just in time for the holiday season. Book Fair hours are Monday, November 18, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Tuesday through Friday, November 19 through 22, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Saturday, November 23, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, call 671-3111. Ask for Laura Kleinmann.

The Oyster Book Fair is a great collection of children's books, and profits constitute the major portion of the Oyster Library's yearly budget for non-staff expenditures. Oyster is the only DC Public school that is entirely bilingual Spanish/English — and it works!)


Eric Owen Moss, FAIA, November 23
Kristi Dangoia,

The designs of Los Angeles architect Eric Owen Moss, FAIA, are unique explorations of space and materiality that result in complex and evocative structures. Moss, principal of Eric Owen Moss Architects and director of SCI-Arc, the Southern California Institute of Architecture, will discuss his career and projects. These include the master plans and buildings for Culver City, California, his plans for the competition-winning Queens Museum of Art in New York, and his project for a new cultural center in St. Petersburg, Russia, now on exhibit at the Venice Biennale. Following his presentation, Moss will sign copies of his books.

National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW (Judiciary Square Metro, Red Line), Saturday, November 23, 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. $15 for museum members, $20 nonmembers, $10 students. Prepaid registration required. Spotlight on Design is an ongoing lecture series featuring architects and designers of distinction. Spotlight on Design is sponsored by the worldwide building materials company, Lafarge. The National Building Museum, created by an act of Congress in 1980, is a private, nonprofit institution that examines and interprets American achievements in building through exhibitions, education programs and publications. The Museum is developing a permanent exhibition, Building America, to explore quintessentially American aspects of our built environment. Museum hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit or call 272-2448.



Furnished Apartment Starting January
Virginia Johnson,

Furnished apartment available for rent in Adams Morgan. Available starting January 1, 2003, through May 1, 2003. Large efficiency (575 square feet). Great location. Sunny with all the amenities. Rent $900 per month. Must be one person, no pets, no smoking. Need up-to-date references with telephone numbers. Prefer someone who is tidy and considerate. For more information, please E-mail



Volunteer Tax Preparers Needed — No Experience Required
Colleen Dailey, East of the River Tax Campaign,

Would you like to help low-income families in DC increase their incomes by as much as 50 percent? The East of the River Tax Coalition is organizing five free tax clinics to help low-income families in Ward 7 claim the valuable tax credits they've earned in 2002. All sites will provide free electronic tax preparation and filing services using TaxWise software. Volunteer tax preparers will be trained in early December to work at tax sites in late January through April 15. Volunteers are also needed to greet and interview clients and review their tax-related paperwork. All volunteers will be expected to work a minimum of three four-hour shifts during the tax season. For more information, contact Colleen Dailey at



DC Flag
Jonathan Tannenwald,

Anybody know where I can get a DC flag suitable for hanging on my wall?


Computer for Child
Roy Kaufmann,

Looking for small computer for child to use for some games and limited Internet. Wishlist: Pentium, sound-card, 64K ram; no monitor needed.


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