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May 8, 2013

Living in the Bubble

Dear Bubble Dwellers:

"When Will America Burst DC’s Bubble?" asks Salena Zito in Real Clear Politics, "Eighteen Starbucks shops can be found in the three-mile walk from DuPont Circle to the US Capitol. Not one of them had a line less than seven people deep on a recent Wednesday afternoon. Twenty-one construction sites filled with workers on girders and cranes towering over whole city blocks can be found on the same walk. Commerce bursts from every angle of this city: small businesses packed with shoppers, hair salons charging more than the monthly mortgage payment on my first house for a cut-and-blow-dry, and main as well as side streets clogged with traffic. America’s capital seems bubble-wrapped in its own vibrant economic boom, while great chunks of the nation struggle with uncertainty about how to keep the engine going. In fact, six of the ten wealthiest American counties are Washington suburbs."

But Zito warns, "The centralized power and wealth in our nation’s capital are becoming so disconnected from the rest of this country that it is palpable to everyone except those who live in Washington. In most people’s lives, the driving issue is economic security. Washington’s obsession is with social and cultural issues that drive bigger wedges between Us and Them. It’s only a matter of time before the rest of America’s complaints will burst Washington’s bubble."

Do you buy her narrative, or is it a false construct? Are we Washingtonians really just everyday, down-home types, middle Americans at heart?

Gary Imhoff


Need Advice on Donating Evergreen Bushes
Laura Marginata,

Would anyone like to adopt a monumental evergreen bush, a smaller mounded evergreen, or two prolific yellow-green acubas from our yard? Or does anyone know of an organization that would dig them up and take them? We have too little space to accommodate them in the manner they deserve. All are mature and vigorous, although the shade-loving acubas would benefit from a location with less direct sunlight.

Everyone we’ve consulted with — including two landscapers, the Botanical Gardens, and the National Arboretum — has (gently) hinted that it’s impractical to look for anyone who would be willing to go to the trouble of removing and transplanting them, but it seems a shame to cut them down if someone else might enjoy them.

If you know of a school, park, or other facility that would welcome an evergreen that is eight feet around as a buffer from neighboring properties, please drop us a line. And if you’d like more information or pictures, feel free to contact us at 202-537-5996. Thanks for any leads or for sharing your experience!


The July 4 Civil Disobedience March
Earl Shamwell,

I recall that some time ago, early in the gun debate, Attorney General Irv Nathanson decided not to prosecute the Meet the Press host, David Gregory, who displayed a thirty-round magazine on his show. Merely possessing a magazine of that size was against DC law, but Nathanson declined to prosecute Gregory because he viewed the matter as invoking the First Amendment. I warned at the time that it was my view that Nathanson in effect had abrogated the magazine proscriptions of our gun laws by establishing a protest defense to the law.

Now this fellow Kokesh says that he will stage a protest of the DC law that prohibits open carry by leading a march into the District with loaded weapons. Chief Lanier has promised to interdict the marchers at the DC/Virginia line and presumably arrest them if they pass the border. It may be that, if arrested and prosecuted, Kortesh and the others who are arrested will assert this defense and claim a 5th Amendment right to due process and equal protection of the law and or selective prosecution. In my view, Nathanson, like most liberals, does not and did not consider the unintended consequences of his decision which in my view was designed simply to protect a member of the privileged class. This will be interesting if it plays out as announced.


Middle C Music Sends More Than Thirty Instruments to Landfill Harmonic
Myrna Sislen,

The talented children of Paraguay who have inspired over a million Internet admirers as they turn trash into music will finally get the chance to perform with professional instruments. Middle C Music has sent over thirty instruments to the Landfill Harmonic youth orchestra,, and I will personally deliver the instruments and see the children perform. I was having lunch with friend and world-famous guitarist Berta Rojas, when Ms. Rojas mentioned the Landfill Harmonic orchestra in her home country of Paraguay. "Why don’t I make some calls?" was my response, and one week later the first shipment of instruments was en route to Paraguay.

The Music Link, a small, independent music manufacturer and distributor, offered the instruments to me at cost, so I placed an order and started arranging delivery to the youth orchestra. I will attend a Landfill Harmonic concert with Ms. Rojas on Thursday, May 9, in Asuncion, Paraguay, and personally present the instruments to the children.

The orchestra’s young members come from the village of Cateura, the site of Paraguay’s major landfill. A few years ago, some of the villagers, whose livelihood depends on recycling the refuse, began using discarded oil drums, packing crates, forks, pipes, and wire to make violins, cellos, horns, and flutes. The results have been startling, both musically and personally. In the popular YouTube video, one teenage girl musician confides "My life would be worthless without music." The orchestra’s director, Favio Chavez, says "The world sends us garbage, we send back music."


Regarding Don Hawkins’ Comment
Richard Layman,

Streetcars last a lot longer than cars. Just like maps can last decades, Don Hawkins [themail, May 5] ought to be aware that so too do streetcars, if properly maintained. Cars typically do not, except in Havana.

There are many examples, but the most visible are the experience of New Orleans or the Market Street Railway ("F Street line") in San Francisco, where streetcars dating as early as 1895 do run. Of course there are San Francisco’s cable car lines — most of the lines are gone but three remain, and date to 1890 and earlier. The modern streetcars in Portland have been operating since 2001. Sadly, I haven’t been to Europe or Australia or Hong Kong where streetcar systems and cars of various ages have been operating for some time.


Drivers License for Immigrants
Willie Schatz,

I have a suggestion for Mary C. Young [themail, May 5]. She should remember that undocumented immigrants are not undocumented (illegal) immigrants. One becomes an "illegal immigrant" only after being declared so by a court.


Wanted: Campaign Bundlers
Jonetta Rose Barras,

The 2014 campaign season is off in the District of Columbia. The yard signs for Ward 4 Councilwoman Muriel Bowser, who is the first official mayoral candidate, have started appearing. And Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells, while still in the "exploratory stage," has entered a new phase of money hustling.

But, is the Ward 6 legislator creating his own class of bundlers? Read more at



Ikebana in Tenleytown, May 11
Mary Alice Levine,

The Friends of the Tenley-Friendship Library will present an Ikebana demonstration Saturday May 11 at 10:00 a.m. Join Ikebana master Jane Redmon as she makes some very remarkable flower arrangements.

We will be in the second floor large meeting room at the Tenley-Friendship Library on the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Albemarle Street, NW. Take the red line to Tenleytown, and bring your camera.


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