Tuesday, July 30, 2013

shoulda put a ring on it

This is easily my favorite YouTube video of all time.

overheard at work today

"'What's a hoe without a pimp? What's a pimp without a hoe?' There are no rappers out there are willing to ask the existential questions anymore."

"Don't worry, girl. You're not interrupting anything but a conference call with Ice Cube."

I love my co-workers.

Monday, July 29, 2013

move to Shipley - it's safer here

This morning on the Metro, I pulled last week's Local Living section out of my purse – I don’t know why, but I've been carrying it around in my purse like it's my towel* or something - and looked at the crime report. The report is broken down first by ward, and then by crime: assaults, burglaries, homicides, motor vehicle thefts, robberies, thefts. Now, scary, scary Ward 8's incidents are roughly equal in number to the crimes reported in totally safe Wards 2, 5 and 6 (is your sarcasm detector working yet?). This doesn’t surprise me one bit.

But when I narrow it down to just where I live in Shipley, there were only three crimes reported during the week in question (July 11-17). Also not a surprise to me, since the only thing really going on over here  is fireworks popping at ungodly hours (when does school start again?), but since you’re curious now, here are our three horrendous, terrifying, drive-through-at-your-own-peril crimes:

Stanton Rd. SE, 3300 block, 9:45 a.m. July 11 (with knife)
Southern Ave. SE, 2500 block, 2:07 a.m. July 14
19th St. SE, 3500 block, 5:20 p.m. July 12 (with gun)

You might be thinking, “Wow. Two violent crimes and an auto theft in one week? That does sound dangerous!”Or maybe you're asking “So what?” right around this point. Don’t worry – I’m getting to my point… now. Why is it that the same folks who are so scared and reluctant to come to my house in an automobile are happier than pigs in shit to drunk-stumble around Columbia Heights? I really don’t get it.** Because they’ve got crime like whoa, y’all:

14th St. NW, 2700 block, 7:37 a.m. July 11
Belmont St. NW, 1400 block, 4:10 p.m. July 16
Sherman Ave. NW, 2900 block, 12 a.m. July 13 (with gun)
Spring Rd. NW, 1400 block, 3:20 p.m. July 15
16th St. NW, 3500 block, 1:10 a.m. July 14
Spring Rd. NW, 1400 block, 3 a.m. July 14 (with gun)
15th St. NW, 2300 block, 5:10 a.m. July 14 (with gun)
14th St. NW, 3100 block, 1:32 a.m. July 15
Irving St. NW, 1000 block, 7:14 a.m. July 16
16th St. NW, 2600 block, 7:26 a.m. July 11 (from vehicle)
Euclid St. NW, 1300 block, 4:42 p.m. July 11
11th St. NW, 2700 block, 6:48 p.m. July 11
14th St. NW, 2100 block, 3:25 p.m. July 12
Clifton St. NW, 1300 block, 4 p.m. July 12
16th St. NW, 2400 block, 8:53 a.m. July 13 (from vehicle)
14th St. NW, 3000 block, 2:44 p.m. July 13
16th St. NW, 2400 block, 11:31 a.m. July 14
16th St. NW, 2400 block, 12:22 p.m. July 14 (twice in the same block in the same hour!)
14th St. NW, 3500 block, 2:35 p.m. July 14
14th St. NW, 3100 block, 7:01 p.m. July 14
Kenyon St. NW, 1300 block, 7:26 p.m. July 14
14th St. NW, 3000 block, 3:28 p.m. July 15 (from vehicle)
13th St. NW, 3500 block, 3:17 p.m. July 15
Columbia Rd. NW, 1100 block, 8:48 a.m. July 16
Belmont St. NW, 1400 block, 12:50 p.m. July 16 (from vehicle)
14 St. NW, 3100 block, 7:20 p.m. July 17
Otis Pl. NW, 1000 block, 9:06 p.m. July 17 (from vehicle)

Have I made my point yet? Let me just drive it all the way home: this data clearly shows that despite the public perception of its incredible safety, Columbia Heights is far more dangerous than Shipley, the neighborhood where I live East of the River. This naturally leads one to wonder how it is possible that my neighborhood could be considered more dangerous and terrifying than one that had two burglaries, five robberies, eighteen thefts, and a murder. In the same week when mine clocked in at three. No murder.

You know where this is going. Let’s not even try to pretend that the answer is much other than a simple “black people live there.” Sure, we could throw in a little bit of media sensationalism, a(n un)healthy dose of relative poverty, a dash of ignorance (because really, how do you know it’s dangerous if you’ve never even been here?), and a hearty helping of the PR nightmare that exists in Councilman Barry. But what do all of those other reasons boil back down to? Ah! Black people are going to rob and kill me!

What do we do to combat this? Because the piss-poor level of services that exist in my neighborhood, and in the ward at large, is real-life proof that this fear and public misperception is preventing us from attracting the development we desperately need to economically thrive.

I’ll be over here brainstorming solutions, because I love this place more than my never-gonna-happen first-born child. You’re even free to help me if you like. But whether you do or not, stop calling my neighborhood scary and dangerous- or I’ll put you in a cab to Columbia Heights.

*That's right, that was a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy joke. Get some.
**This is disingenuous. I totally get it. Black people. We’re terrifying. Boo.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

two conversations, twenty four hours

On poor timing:
Me: Hey, where's your going away party tomorrow?
Friend: It's tonight. Right now.

On elderly neighbors and their adult grandchildren:
Me: Is Mr. B OK? There was just an ambulance in front of his house. 
Neighbor's Son: Oh, that wasn't for Mr. B. That was for his grandson. He passed out or something.
Me: Oh, man. Well I'm glad it wasn't Mr. B again. I know an ambulance came by and took him to the hospital a few weeks ago.
NS: No, that was for his grandson, too.
Me: What happened? Does he have some kind of health problem?
NS: Mr. B stabbed him.
Me: I'm sorry, what?
NS: He got drunk and started swinging on Mr. B, and the old man stabbed him.
Me: How do you know that?
NS: Because he walked up to our house that night covered in blood, knocked on the door, and asked, "Do you have a cigarette?" I mean, I know that panicking makes you bleed to death faster, but dude took not panicking to the extreme. "Can I have a cigarette?" Yeah, man. You can have an ambulance, too.

In conclusion, A) I'm an idiot, B) our next door neighbor has hilarious kids, and C) never swing on sweet old Mr. B.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

told you so

Oh, and P.S. I totally called that the new baby prince was going to be named Alexander or Louis. And what'd they name him? George Alexander Louis.


today, in nerd news

Tonight's blog will be a little bit wonkier than usual. But hey- I'm interning at a policy think tank. What do you want from me?

I spent the morning at a forum hosted by ETS. They hosted a discussion and panel on their recent report about poverty and education. It didn't feel like anything I didn't already know, but it was certainly a good synthesis of a lot of these pertinent issues, and offered recommendations for how to address them. Plus they had green salad for lunch, so I got to toss the bread from a tuna sandwich and concoct myself a gluten-free meal. Hooray! But for folks who didn't get to attend, here's a link to the report. You'll have to make your own tuna sandwich.

At the forum, the moderator referenced a recent study of social mobility that was featured on NPR last night. I have yet to look at the map that both the moderator and Raj Chetty (the economist who conducted the study) mentioned, but here's a link to that as well. It sounded fascinating, and frankly, I'm rushing through this post so I can hurry up and check it out already.

I ate dinner with Nick at a place I discovered yesterday called Rice Bar. It's a build your own bibimbap place (think Korean Chipotle), and it is, simply put, fantastic. I like mine with bulgogi and an egg on top. They also have a sushi happy hour. Next time I go, I'll get a rock shrimp and cilantro roll. Word to the wide: getting bibimbap and a sushi roll is too much. Even if you split the roll. Don't do it, fatty.

I finished my first draft of my very first brief today. It outlines a forum my NPO co-sponsored with Complete College America on postsecondary remediation reform (AKA holy crap, everyone who takes remedial classes drops out, what do we do?). Here's the gist on what CCA does. There's actually a whole reform movement and community surrounding this issue. Who knew? Now, you.

Oh, and tonight, after leaving an organizing workshop (more about that later), I dropped an acquaintance off at her apartment in Northeast. She lives in a new development called Rhode Island Row, and wowzers, is it nice! I just kept thinking about how amazing it would be if the Skyland re-development actually pulls through over here, because it's supposed to look a lot like this. I'll attach a photo as soon as I pull it off my phone.

I want string lights and stores in my neighborhood :(


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

the WalMart (and interview) that wasn't

Let's ease back into this blogging thing then, eh?

This morning, I got a text message from a friend of mien I met through Daughters of the American Revolution. She works for CBS and asked, "Would you be willing to do an interview for us tonight about the WalMart in your neighborhood? We're having a tough time finding someone who supports it willing to be interviewed for TV." Um, of course I would! If there's anything I love talking about more than East of the River, you should tell me, because I surely can't think of it. I started fact-checking that statistics I usually include when I talk about the need for economic development over here, and started getting super pumped up. And then...

The interview was canceled. They got held up filming in Southeast and didn't have time to interview me in Dupont Circle (where I'm interning this summer) before they submitted the video package at 3:30. Needless to say, this was a massive bummer. I was really looking forward to representing Ward 8* in my argyle cardigan and pearls. It takes all kinds, you know. It takes all kinds.

We're just one mayoral veto away from having this...

...instead of this.
Anyway, I wanted to share two articles and an editorial by Anthony Williams about the proposed development. And please know that I'm not generally a fan of WalMart. But I am a fan of adding more retail options to the approximately uh, none** that currently exist over here, where unemployment is around 25% and about half of residents don't have automobiles. But I digress. On to the articles.

Skyland Town Center Will Have WalMart, Apartments by 2016
D.C.'s Retailer Bill Will Do More Harm Than Good
Tommy Wells Will Propose Alternate Living Wage Bill
Six More Major Retailers Tell Gray They'll Reconsider D.C. Growth if Living Wage Becomes Law

*I know that the proposed Skyland WalMart is in Ward 7. But it sits right at the Good Hope-Alabama-Naylor crossroads, and Naylor Road is the eastern boundary between Wards 7 and 8. The Skyland development is less than one mile from my house.
**This is hyperbolic. But really, Ward 8 has one grocery store, three sit-down restaurants (and one is an IHOP), and negligible retail. Compared to communities west of the river, that is nothing. We already have the lowest average per capita and household incomes in the city. Creating minimum wage jobs in an area where there are currently none is an improvement.

Monday, July 22, 2013

sayonara Facebook, hello blog?

I recently disabled my Facebook account. All of the Trayvon Martin hate started bleeding together with photos of my friends and family having awesome times together without inviting me, and it made my heart ache. I'd like to be more attentive to this blog, but lately, I'm struggling with:

  • A. the longer format, since I've become a pro at the short soundbites and re-posts of Facebook; 
  • B. what I suspect is likely an extended bout with depression; and 
  • C. how to blog authentically about my life without talking at great length about being bone-crushingly glum, since the Internet lasts forever and I'd prefer not to be defined as some kind of unstable sadpants.

Fortunately, stopping the steady stream of trivial updates that is the Book of Faces has forced me to actually reach out to people. Remember how telephones used to be for calling people, and not just texting, Tweeting and liking at them? I've been doing that, and it turns out that ish is dope. And the people who respond - who call back, and email, and send photos - have to actively seek me out, not just stumble across something I've said on their news feed. My original goal was to go for one month without logging on, but now I can see it being a long-term lifestyle change. Plus, our air conditioning is broken, and who wants to sit around in the heat on a laptop when you can be over at someone else's house with AC?

But anyway. I'm going to try to ratchet it up. But tomorrow, though. I've gotta hit the hay. Big day of being a thirty year old intern in front of me tomorrow.