Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Justine on DC's Less Exposed Side

"I’ve lived in a lot of different cities since I was 18: Marseille, Hamburg, Berlin, New York, Dakar and now, DC. I feel like with every city that you move to, it's like starting a new relationship; you have to figure out what the personality is of this new city you’re living in. So far, DC has been the most mysterious one to determine. DC has this great fa├žade that it likes to put on of being a very governmental place where everything eventually goes back to the Administration. People are very tuned in to the 9-5 lifestyle and it manifests itself in so many different ways. Like the happy hours, people getting out of work at five and drinking until seven. And it plays out with the metro closing at midnight because who is going to be out past midnight when you have to be up at seven to be at work at nine?

"But, DC also has this subversive side to its personality that is a lot more difficult to find. It does have those people who have nothing to do with the government and maybe live outside of northwest…God forbid they don’t live in that one quarter that everyone is suppose to live in…and they have bartending jobs or they’re DJs or they work for advertising companies. That’s what I’ve found most interesting about being here.

"To be honest, I didn’t want to leave New York. When I first got here, I knew a few people and it was fine and all, but it was discovering that hidden side of the city that has been the most interesting. That’s where I think the personality really is. I feel like if you didn’t look for the things below the surface, DC would be a really boring city. Whereas in a lot of other places, it’s out there and pretty obvious. For example, you go to New York and just to be completely stereotypical, the hipsters live in Williamsburg and that is where you go to hear weird and obscure music and buy slightly strange clothing. It puts itself out there and shows what it is, but DC has been a more complicated place to figure out. Those things are here, though, you just have to find them."

Read more about DC's less exposed side on Brightest Young Things and Vice Magazine.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ilir on Securing Full Democracy for DC

“I am the Executive Director of DC Vote. Washingtonians do not have voting representation in Congress. That is a result of a fluke in our Constitutional system during the founding of our country. Our mission is to secure voting representation in Congress for DC residents and to secure full democracy as well. Right now, we are trying to get the DC Voting Rights Act through Congress, which will give DC residents a vote in the House. We’re also trying to protect the District’s gun laws.

“We work with Members of Congress to make sure that they have the right information as they are doing mark ups and hearings. We work with a coalition of 85 organizations to educate their members around the country and to get them to write letters to Congress and to President Obama. That is the thrust of what we do, but we also work with students and give lectures at schools and engage folks as much as we can, in any way we can.

“We work with national organizations like the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the NAACP, the National Urban League, and a number of Jewish, Unitarian, and Methodist organizations. A wide range of people support DC voting rights. The chief champion for Congress is the DC delegate Eleanor Holmes Nortan. We also have a collection of what we call unusual suspects, people like Joe Lieberman and Orrin Hatch and, of course, Barack Obama supports DC voting rights.

"The critical thing is to join us. We are as strong as our membership. Join us and demand a vote.”

Take action to bring a vote to DC here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pastor R. L. Stevenson on Gardening and Loving The Lord

“People always say to me, “You a Pastor? “I ain’t never seen no woman Pastor!” You know, I really just call myself Sister. I don’t like to be called Pastor, but they call me Pastor here, so I have to accept that. Titles don’t interest me, I just love the Lord enough to be in whatever place God puts me.

“We’ve had this little church ever since 1985. So, we just a family here. It’s not a big bunch of people, it’s just elders and children and whoever else will come. We feed people, we give people clothes, just whatever we can do to make the neighborhood better. We had some bad little kids around here for a while. Now, I don’t like to say bad, but they did things. We bought roses and lined them all around the church and it cost us quite a bit. But, the next morning when we came to church, the kids had pulled up one or two. The next week, the kids had maybe left one or two. That same week, they pulled them all up.

"It was sad for us because the money that the elders gathered up was not that much, mostly the little people received from social security, but it was a lot for us. So, I left the garden alone for a while, even though I love to plant flowers, and then a woman in the neighborhood came by and said that she would help us put up a fence to protect our flowers. The rest of the congregation chipped in too and that is what makes it so good around here. People are so lovely, they do whatever they can to help the church. And in return, we do our best to make people happy and keep a joyful neighborhood that looks nice. We sing our songs and we praise the Lord. Someone may read a me, that is just heaven on earth.

“My prayer for DC is for God to bless every leader, to recognize that it is God who we have to look up to. I believe if they put God first, the District will rise from the situation it is in.”

Hear Pastor R. L. Stevenson preach the good word at the Trinity Holy Tabernacle Church on 9th and Ist NE on Sunday at 11:45 am or 7:30 pm, Wednesday at 8 pm and Friday at 8 pm.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Rob on Decent Food

"I work in a fine dining place in the Washington Hotel called the J & G Steak House. Food in DC is definitely a lot different than Kansas City, Chicago or New York. I would say that DC is a couple of years behind those cities. Overall, the restaurant scene here is pretty decent, but there is also a lot of sloppy food around this town. You have a lot of Congressmen and people who work for the government who are used to certain menu items and that is what the restaurants have to cater to. People want steak and potatoes and fish and chips and that is part of why, I think, it is a little behind.

"You have some regional stuff like crab cakes and scrapple, but other than that, I think people here prefer more familiar foods. However, there are lots of ways to be creative with those food styles. Crab cakes, for instance, don’t have to be a regular style Maryland crab cake with Old Bay and celery. You can take the crab cake and serve it with a ginger lime dressing and a horseradish aioli. So, you can put a new twist on older dishes, but it is kind of hit and miss with non-traditional food items. People in DC like home grown stuff. They like chefs from DC and are very closed off when it comes to celebrity chefs or chefs from other areas; they circle the wagons so to speak, when anyone from out of town comes in."

Rob’s favorite restaurants in the area (outside of his own) are Atlantico, Indaroma, and Bourbon Steak.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Elijah on Being The Next President

"I have lived in five provinces of Canada, 11 states of Mexico, and 44 States of the USA. I got to DC on Valentine’s Day of this year. The city is just a place for me to kick knowledge around with people from all over the world. I’m a philosopher and one who has found the key to comprehending life. For me to come to Lafayette Park and meet people from all over the world and share some of this information, well, that is just the life of Riley.

"Now that Bush is gone and people’s consciousnesses are actually opening up and they are seeing that something is wrong, people are looking for someone like me. And so, now I have a chance to share this understanding with them. Basically, the understanding is that life is all about reincarnation and karma. I got a
website which highlights what I am demanding as a citizen.

"Remember, we, the American people, are the boss and the government is our servant. Therefore, we have the right to demand that our servants do what we ask. They represent us, so they must have our input when they are trying to get things done. Until we see a full law before it is passed, they are not representing us and they are in violation of their oath to the Constitution and I want them out.

"Everybody needs to go, except for the people who were elected to Congress last November and the last three appointed Justices. The rest of the politicians, including the President, need to sign a letter of resignation because that is an order from me, the people. Look, I don't want to be a politician, but it is my destiny to be a leader. When Obama says that he is stepping down based on my order, he has to nominate a person to replace him and it should be me. My first two acts as President would be to free
Leonard Peltier and arrest Bush W. Bush for treason."

See Elijah Alfred "Nature Boy" Alexander, Jr. in the New York Times

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ben on Saving DC Hair from Ridicule

“So, as a stylist, I am trying to bring DC hair a little more edge for the men and a little more runway for the women. Not too much where it is, like ok, too drastic, but just enough for people to say, that’s nice. No more bobs, no more Hillary Clinton cuts. I mean, come on, can we see Hillary in a dress, too? Just something a little fashion forward, that’s my job.

"The Obamas are doing a great job, especially Michelle. She is bringing fashion forward for DC. She is a young first lady. I think she is able to pull off being fashionable and having great hair. I mean, she is representing and I commend her on that. I think that people here need to follow her lead and stop thinking in the fashion past and start thinking about the fashion future.

"Let’s get the city on the right path, at least in terms of hair. I’m doing my part to move this city forward because I believe in fashion. I am constantly reading fashion magazines from Europe. Let’s bring some of that to DC hair so people stop laughing at us."

Let Ben save your hair from ridicule. You can find him at the
s/p/alon and see his reviews here. Read more about DC fashion from Lara.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sara on Kicking It Up a Notch

“I work for a non-profit that advocates on behalf of older Americans. I used to do advocacy at the state level, but I wanted to kick it up a notch. For me, it was either move to Albany or to DC. In the end, I am glad that I picked DC.

“I am still figuring out the nuts and bolts of lobbying, but I am learning quickly as I am very much exposed to the process now, especially given what is going on with
Health Care Reform. It is very intriguing for me to see how what happens out at the grassroots level around the country translates into policy in DC. Sometimes it is an effective means of getting this done, using the message from people on the street, but sometimes it is not as effective as it could be. I’ve also found that what is discussed in DC does not always resonate to what is playing out with regular people out in the country. I am still trying to figure out how best to bridge this gap and advocate for our members in a way that politically makes sense and will get their goals accomplished.

“Even if I wasn’t lobbying, I’d find another thing to do here because I love DC. People are very receptive to meeting new people and introducing you to their networks, at least that’s been my experience. I’ve always enjoyed politics and, for me, I love that in any conversation you have, regardless of what position the person holds, be it schoolteacher, janitor, lawyer, everyone is aware of what is going on politically. That is a thing that was missing when I was a securities lawyer in Manhattan. There it was all about the work...very insular.

“DC is a great city for those who love politics…and even for those who don’t like politics. When I came down here from New York, I was introduced to folks who were both Democrats and Republicans and regardless of their political affiliation, they were helpful in introducing me to people in their professional networks. As for politics, I like to get all sides of the spectrum. You can certainly disagree and I’m comfortable with you disagreeing, but it should be a constructive disagreement.”

To learn more about issues related to the elderly in DC, including organizations in need of volunteers, click here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Spencer on Old Time Rock 'N Roll at The Saloun

"I am a drummer for The Unforgiven. We've been playing old time rock 'n roll at The Saloun for the past five years. Things there haven’t changed that much. We get a good college crowd...and a lot of pretty ladies. We also get a lot of international people. We love to play what people from all around the world love, including The Stones and The Beatles. The music crosses all barriers for people from ages 15 to 70.

“You know, I’m a DC native. I think that DC is a great place to call home, but I don’t really think there is a music scene here these days. The charts are all Go Go and rap, I’d like to hear some good new melodies. I started losing interest in the mid-1980s. The music we play is the stuff we grew up with, the stuff we love to play.

"DC has always been a political town, so you had to get out of DC to do anything musically. There are a few artists that made it, but I don’t really think there is much going on here these days. Years ago, M St. used to be the Mecca for live music. Now, it 's all DJs and karaoke. The Saloun is one of the last places that’s left.

"The kids today, they want to hear a great melody and sing their favorite songs, but there’s not a whole lot to sing because there aren’t bands playing in DC anymore. But, I am an optimist...or better said, a realist...I mean it’s been so bad here for so long, it can only get better, right?”

Check out this great resource for information on live music in and around DC. And, read more stories about DC's music scene from Slim and Asyhia and Wo Wo and Eric and Maddie.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Reetha on DC Mayors

"I’ve been living in DC all my life. I’m 43-years-old and have one biological child. He is incarcerated right now because he is one of the stupid ones that wanted to live here in DC and steal people’s cars. But, I wasn’t having it and I am the one who turned him in. And, now he is doing his time.

"But, I want to talk about Marion Barry. Marion Barry is the love of my life. He will always be the love of my life because when I started my summer jobs through the SYEP program, I never had no problems with my money like these kids have today. I never had no problems with my IDs at job sites either. Everything was always on time with Marion Barry. I always had jobs with Marion Barry unlike the mayor we have today, I can’t wait until Fenty's day...he is coming out of that chair. That is all I got to say about DC."

Check out the documentary "The Nine Lives of Marion Barry."

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mr. Carter on The Hitching Post's Famous Fried Chicken

"I moved to DC from Cleveland, came here to be a police officer when I was 28. I met my wife while walking the beat. She was always supportive of whatever I did, including opening a restaurant. Today, I am very pleased that I made the decision to open The Hitching Post. Now, at the age of 75, 43 years after opening this place, I am still doing what I want to be doing.

"It all started when I was assigned with another policeman at Connecticut Ave. and Calvert St. one evening on a special detail. I was a footman, and footmen were required to stand outside in all kinds of weather for special events. This particular event was the President, at that time, having some festival at one of the major hotels in that area. During that evening, I was talking with the other officer, I don’t remember his name, but I’ll never forget what he told me. He said, 'You interested in going into business?' He told me about opening a restaurant and suggested this location in Petworth and said it was a gold mine. He said if I opened this restaurant, served good food and was nice to the clientele, I would make a good living. He was right.

“We were new to the business, to cooking and to dealing with the public so I learned my trade in here. I started cooking in the 1960s, but there was not much of a need for it then because much of our business was in the alcohol trade: beer, wine and mixed drinks. We had a good relationship with the older people who came in here from the soldiers home across the street. Many of them were from broken families, divorcees, lonely people, but when they came in here, we cheered them up. They made us feel so happy that they could relate their stories to us…and many of them had a lot of stories to tell. They told stories about war and their time overseas and we listened. They were very nice men and we even had a few women too. They would come day after day, we were like a big family.

"Much of that has now gone, and most of our clients are professionals who drive from other areas of the city. There was a lady who came all the way from Baltimore the other day to have some chicken. People always ask what kind of mixture I use to cook my fried chicken. It’s simple. I beat up my eggs and add a little water. That is my dip and then I mix in a little flour with salt and paper….and rosemary. Got to add the rosemary to it, that gives it the flavor.

"I think that our music box has also been a big addition to our popularity. We carry a mixture of music, much of it dating back to the 1940s. I still enjoy listening to Big Band, it has always been a part of my repertoire. We have some of our favorite artists such as Nat King Cole, Jo Stafford, and Chet Baker. A lot of the music is quiet music, nothing that is going to blow you out of here. We do have a little music that would be attractive to the younger generation, but most of our music is for a subtle dining atmosphere. With that Ipod you can collect more of what is available, but the music box still has something that you can’t replace, nostalgia. I think that in time, the music box is going to be an old dinosaur, just like the Carters!

“In the future, I’d like the restaurant to continue to operate. I don’t want to shut it down. I hope that I can manage the restaurant without ever, ever closing or changing it to something else. We spent so much of our life here, it means so much to us.”

Read more about The Hitching Post and other soul food restaurants in Petworth here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ali on Taking Time to Smell The Roses

"I have been selling flowers in DC for 15 years.  I don’t have any stories.  People in DC don’t usually have time to talk, they just buy flowers and go...always in a rush!  I have a lot of regular customers, but I don’t really have any relationships with them. I usually work downtown on weekdays, 17th and Pennsylvania, and weekends I work in Mt. Pleasant. This is a nice neighborhood.  Most people buy flowers for the restaurant, to take to the hospital, to bring to other people.  My favorite part of the job is arranging flowers for parties. People just love flowers!"

Read more about life in Mt. Pleasant from Tony.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tesfay on The People You Meet in Taxis

"I have been driving here for about six years.  I like driving taxis because I meet a lot of different people and encounter different cultures.  All of the world is in Washington so I enjoy driving a cab.  I meet a lot of nice people and bad people too…have dealt with robbery and all of that.

"Good people here, they always talk to you.  They are moral and allow you to work.  The bad people, they rob you.  I was robbed a few years ago at gunpoint in Southeast.  After that, I became more alert. Someone, he seems like he is going to kill you, you don’t pick him up.  Other than that, I pick up a lot of people and I still go to Southeast a lot."

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cousins Marquise and Bobby on Going Down in History

Marquise - "I want to talk about how our community in DC is so grateful because we have kids out here playing and enjoying themselves because the streets are safe now in Adams Morgan. We about to go back to school. It’s so much fun to go to school because you can learn so many things. Little children, if I was you, I would learn and respect our parents and thank God for blessing you with that parent."

Bobby - "I’m here with my cousin. We play football, basketball, play a little soccer, play some X Box. I did mostly everything with him to try and keep him out of trouble. Sometimes, he talks back that’s all. I want to talk about Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) at my High School, Springwell. At school time when you are in high school, they take you out of class on school time…that is the best part of JROTC. You get Army strong for when you go to summer camp. But, I don’t want to be in the military. I have family in the military that’s why I joined JROTC. There are 36 other people with me in JROTC. I am a Staff Sergeant. I hope to be a Lieutenant Colonel by the time I leave high school. That means I can tell people what to do. Now, my Staff Sergeant tells me what to do, but he a grown ass man! He just came out the Army. Hey Marquise, you want to do JROTC with me?"

Marquise – "No, I don’t want my name to go down in history by being dead."

Bobby - "How do you want your name to go down in history?"

Marquise - "I want my name to go down in history by not being killed for something stupid

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Catherine and Moises on The District of Colombia

Moises. “I am Colombian. During the summer in DC, you see lots of different places promote nightlife on Saturday and relaxing at a hotel pool on Sunday. The pool parties are cool. It’s a good way to network, meet people…and put your rap down! Hey, why not? It’s different from where we’re from. This is part of the culture in Colombia, not just a once a week or month event like in DC. You go out with friends and family. I am from a Caribbean city, so the food and even the way your body functions is totally different over there. In DC, you need a little more alcohol to get your body to function! But here, there are the perks of opportunity. Over there, it is just a feeling. People enjoy each other for what they have there. Here, people worry about what they don’t have.”

Catherine – “I’m Colombian, too. For me, I would love to go back to my country. There is nothing like Colombia. You can have little and just be happy all day...not like here. Here, you got everybody, though, from all countries. In Colombia, you got just Colombians, nothing else. I love it there and no matter how long I stay here, I am Colombian all the way. The pool party, I like this. The party is really nice and diverse, but I still miss Colombia.”

Moises – “One more thing, I definitely wish there were more of a Latin crowd out at night in DC. It is a really diverse city, so it seems like clubs always have to split it up to make it even-steven for everybody. You know, the first floor is old school, the second floor is techno and a small room in the corner will be Latin. I wish there were some hard core Latin music…you know salsa. There are some places, but the venues are usually small and crowded.”

Moises and Catherine recommend Caribbean Breeze as their favorite Caribbean restaurant in the area. I would also suggest Sweet Mango.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Melissa on Social Work and Real World DC

"I'm about to start working with Sasha Bruce and the Youth Hype Program. It's family therapy for kids who are just coming out of the system. I used to work over at Score Educational Center and that's what really motivated the move into social work. The scope of what I was able to help with as an educator in DC was really limited and so I decided to go into social work. I know that 90% of people who need the help either can't or won't get it, but if I can get access to some of those kids who are coming out of drug know it's a numbers game. I used to canvas and when I was working for the Human Rights Campaign and would knock on 100 doors, if 50 people answered and 25 spoke to me and ten of them gave me money, it was a successful day. I think you are playing the same odds when it comes to social work here.

"So, my parents are thrilled! Because now we are actually going into people's houses. My Dad said, 'Kids, you've always been pretty fearless, but why don't you see if you can tone that down as you are going into those neighborhoods?

"My perception of DC is that it is very class divided. I mean, you step outside of Northwest or even to the edges of Northwest and it's like you are in a different city. I think that it is hilarious that the Real World is being filmed on the corner of S and 19th because I don't think that people in other cities or in other areas know that that is ridiculous real estate. That is not the real world! Nineteen-year-olds do not fucking live in houses like that. You know, maybe if they put a Real World house in Petworth, that would make more sense. But, they would probably never do that."

Read more about the impact of the Real World on DC at Anti-Real World DC, DCist and Going Out Gurus. Or, if you're into the Real World and want to know their whereabouts, check out the Washingtonian.

Shawn Parell and I conducted this interview.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

David on Entitled Coffee Drinkers

"I work in a coffee shop and I think that there is a unique sense of community among DC coffee shops. I work at Peregrine Espresso on the Hill and I used to work at Murky Coffee, which no longer exists. I have friends in all different coffee shops and I've met a lot of interesting people that way, people who live in DC for all different reasons. I think that everyone is pretty close and has fun with each other.

"DC has an...interesting customer base at coffee shops. Umm, God, I can't remain anonymous anymore. Fuck it, I'm moving to Paris...people in DC are really into being entitled! I think that's because there is such high turnover, people who just moved here get really high on the fact that like 'I live in DC and I work on the Hill and make no money, but whatever, like, I'm the shit' and they bring that to their coffee shop staff sometimes and they are...dicks.

"But that said, there are also really amazing customers in DC for all of the really, really, really awful ones. I've had some great customers too who have been super nice and supportive and, like, interested in what you do. And the worst one I ever had was from Brooklyn, so whatever.

"In most cases, you try and kill them with kindness. I think that there is a fine line between someone who is being a dick, like, just to be a dick and someone who is being a dick out of ignorance or something like that. Some people come into a store to pick a fight with someone. I don't know why that is in DC. To those people you just have to say, 'We don't need your business. Could you please leave?' Those people, you don't let them get you down."

Read reviews of DC's best coffee and tea spots here.

Shawn Parell and I conducted this interview.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tony on Taking Back Mt. Pleasant

"In the late 1980s, the crack epidemic hit Mount Pleasant as it hit every other block in DC. You didn’t really know what was up because there were undercover cops, the police, and dealers, you know the whole gamut that comes with this crack epidemic, everywhere. And then things tapered off in the 90s and people started dealing in the back streets and alleyways instead of wide open in the front. Then, the neighborhood became more conscious of its surroundings and starting organizing itself and making things available to the youth. Bancroft School became one of the major playgrounds for after school activities. Also, up on the main street of Mount Pleasant, the park became a place where people could go play chess and checkers.

"Because of that, people started to intermingle and relate with each other. People started getting along, but there were still small pockets of resistance from some of the younger guys. A lot of the youth became more defensive, only watching out for themselves. They be stashing baseball bats around the neighborhood in case they were attacked.

"But the ordinary DC folks seemed oblivious to what’s going on around here unless you live it and know what’s happening. If you pass through, you don’t care. But, a lot of Mt. Pleasant diehards know what is happening and try and preserve it as an historical neighborhood."

To read more about the historic district of Mt. Pleasant click here.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Jon on Taking Care of Your Backyard

"This is the Nation’s Capitol where all the Senators, Congressmen, everybody lives. They care more about themselves than they do about this city. They always say that you are supposed to take care of the backyard before you take care of the front yard...which they don’t. The homeless is rough man. I don’t think nobody should live on the street. You have all these abandoned buildings in DC, put these people there. Everybody needs help…there’s so many mental problems.

"You a Muslim? By the grace of God, God goin' come and all the powerful people, he going to bring them down and show them how it is suppose to be. They say time has got to repeat itself. This economy is messed up. When people eat only rice everyday, that is depression. We don’t have no depression. This is suppose to be the richest country in the world. It is the people over there in the White House and Capitol that are making the depression. Look at them. They have steaks, I got a bologna sandwich. Come on man!

"God didn’t put people on the earth to be like that, he put people on the earth to help one another. He is the King. He is the President of everything. But, this city is sad man, I was born in South Carolina and God knows I want to go home. I wish I had never came to this city."

For a directory of DC shelters and soup kitchens in need of volunteers and donations, click here.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ms. Martha on Going and Coming in Shaw

"I really don’t have no stories to remember. I love the neighborhood here. We get along…we don’t have a whole lot of least I don’t think we do. The neighborhood changed a lot. We used to be an all black neighborhood, at least this particular block when I first moved here. Everything was black. Wasn’t no white people living here. But now, it is mostly white and we got three black neighbors in here now. I don’t know most of the people now, just recognize the faces. They all get along.

"We don’t have no problem. We try and keep the things clean and do the best we can. So, I can’t complain about nothing. I say everybody go where they want to go. I just enjoy seeing them going and coming. But, we can depend on each other if we have to. When needs come, we help each other out."

For community news and information about Shaw click here. Also, take a look at RenewShaw.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Amanda on The Same Scene

"My first impression of DC…I had actually gone to school in Baltimore so I know the area more or less. So, my first impression of DC was…it’s a lot different. Columbia Heights really built itself up. There was nothing there when I was here before. I just came back here and now we have Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond.

"However, some things have stayed exactly the same. I used to go to Pharmacy Bar in Adams Morgan and ten years later, I go back and it’s exactly the same….same bartenders, same everything. It is interesting because I was in the hipster scene in college and then I left for about ten years and then I came back to the Pharmacy Bar and The Raven and it’s exactly the same. I met some people that I knew back in college that used to go there. It’s the same scene, same people in the scene. Still, I kind of stay in the scene because I enjoy the music a lot. I still go, but I can’t say that I’m part of the music scene any more. I am more into non-profit now."

Read more about development in Columbia Heights here. Also, Amanda asks that you check out In The Light, a project supporting survivors of child sex abuse.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Siblings Asyhia and Wo Wo on Hearing Go Go For The First Time

Asyhia - "First time I heard Go, my favorite song was Overnight Scenario. Heard It outside, someone was playing it out the car radio. People were dancing. It was the first Go Go I went to, first band I ever seen – forgot the band, but it was Overnight Scenario. Last show I saw was TCB, TOB, all of the them. Saw them at the Show Place."

Wo Wo - "And Go Go Music. The first time I heard Go Go music…I love Go Go’s the best. The emotion and all that, the crowd, the movement it gets you hyped and stuff like that. Yes, that’s the best thing that ever happened to me in DC. I heard Backyard Band, it's called The Thong Song. That’s the first song I ever heard. That’s my favorite song. Want me to sing it?"

Listen to Go Go and find out about upcoming shows here. Also, you may know the Backyard Band's singer Anwan Glover as Slim Charles from The Wire.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Joe on U Street

"On U Street we had everything we wanted. We didn’t go downtown because of the segregation, but we had everything right here. All your clothing stores, theaters, drug stores…everything. We first started going downtown in the 1960s. They had all the best stores downtown, but the best music was here. We had four theaters on U St…bebop, Go Go, we had it all. We also had the biggest gamblers up here. All the money was up here. We had one…two…three…four pool rooms.

"We didn’t have no, what you call it, trouble. Everybody who came into the neighborhood, if they weren’t right, we would run them out of here. The drugs didn’t start coming in until the 1970's. Heroin. Then crack came in and that’s what ruined everything. And now, nothing’s been turned around. The police come around everyday trying to drive us out of the neighborhood. And this is where we grew up. Every time you turn around, you got to get out the neighborhood. For what? I’ve been in DC for 75 years."

Read more about historic U Street here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Lara on DC's Particular Fashion Style

“I’m from Miami Beach, I just graduated from Tufts and moved to DC three months ago. I just got a job working for Annie Creamchease, which is a DC vintage shop. It’s really great stuff, really cute. It is one of the few places here that let people have style.

"When you walk around DC you will notice that everyone here is on a mission. They are wearing suits, they are wearing ties, they are wearing heels and they are not going to parties, they are going to work and they are completely like, conservatively dressed to go to work, dressed for desk jobs, trying to be really professional. It is hard coming from a place where I can wear a bathing suit and a cover up and walk into a bank and there is no problem. So, DC is definitely a different feel from Miami, but people are much more friendly. The style here is very particular – New England meets southern comfort. I don’t know, I am sure that people here get dressed in the morning and they put thought into the outfits, but not in a fashion forward way.

"When I walk around, it occurs to me that I feel under dressed. The other day I was walking around downtown in a flowy white sundress and people looked at me like I was a martian. They were in their suits wondering who is this person and what is she doing...she is certainly not working. Its an interesting attitude that is definitely felt throughout the city."

Read more about style in DC at Project Beltway.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Chris and James on Giving Back to DC

Chris - "I would say that being a part of Howard and being in this community and being part of the legacy that Howard has in this community is adding to the history here. We see a lot of the people that walk up and down these streets and they say, ‘Wow you go to Howard. That’s a really good school.” These are people who grew up here and have been a part of this community for decades. And like, they have seen a lot of the things that have gone on here. I would like to do something at Howard that can contribute to the community, to Georgia Avenue to LeDroit Park area. Something that could be lasting, that the residents that have had their families here, can appreciate. Whether it is aesthetic or something that can change the way things are. Making the neighborhood safer for the kids, something like that. As long as we stay connected with people who live around here, we can continue to make the neighborhood a better place. I’m originally from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It’s a big, big change in pace for me. I like it a lot here and plan to stay here after I graduate. I’d like to have my own family here one day."

James - "Coming from Detroit, it’s a big change. Not the population, but the public transportation, the nature. I love Howard and DC and the history. The people here have a lot to offer. As a sports management major, there are a lot of opportunities given that DC is such a sports town with the
Wizards and the Nationals. It’s an open gateway, DC is the perfect place to come for opportunities in sports. The community here is great. As Howard students, we need to give back to the community and have an understanding of what goes on. We have a lot we could commit to DC. Before I leave, I want to start some basketball camps and things like that to give back to the youth. Because I know there a lot of things that kids here don’t have, like in Detroit. I just to expose the youth to Howard. Want to get more DC people to come to Howard. Still being in DC, I am a diehard Detroit sports fan. I go to DC games, but I don’t like them. I am sorry, but that's how it goes."

Read about Howard University's community development projects in DC

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Slim on The Howard Theater

"I been going to the Howard Theater since the late 70's. We’d always go to Chuck Brown and all that. Howard Theater, that’s a legend man! Why don’t you all open it up again so can go up in there and party now? That’s what we looked forward to from Friday til Saturday or holidays. We always looked forward to that spot right there…Rare Essence, Trouble Funk, Chuck Brown. But, Chuck ain’t play there too much, he was too big for them. But, then my mother told me about going there when she was coming up. She used to go and see Sam Cooke and James Brown.

"First show I went to see was so cold, the pipes froze then busted on us. They pulled us out, we didn’t get our money back. They didn’t tell us what was wrong at the time, just told us to get out. That’s all it was man. They had a security guard, Officer Robertson, that was his name. Yeah, he pulled us out. He was head of security, used to beat people up. He took you out, took your money and took your drugs if you had any. That was the first show I went to." 

Learn more about the Howard Theater's restoration here.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Jodi on Coming Back to Adams Morgan

"My story is about the reason that my parents moved from Euclid Street in the 80's. There was a shooting on a Saturday afternoon and all of the people involved ran through our backyard. It all started on the corner of 17th and Euclid St. after Marion Barry enacted legislation to allow drug dealers to live in houses. Ever since I lived here in the early 1980s, they’ve lived in this one house and there has always been trouble because of that.

"My parents saw the guys running through our yard and said, 'Ok, it’s three o’clock on a Saturday, we’re moving. You know, we love this city, but not with a newborn baby.'

"My parents met in Adams Morgan. My Dad lived at the Woodner and my Mom lived at the apartment building that is cattycorner. So, Columbia Station and La Fourchette were here then. They met playing softball on the mall and then they moved to 17th and Euclid together.

"Now that I am back in Adams Morgan, my parents think that it’s really neat. I think they really enjoyed living here. I am third generation DC. "

Learn more about some of the renovation at 17th and Euclid here.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Mr. Paterson on Setting 'Em Straight

"Young people are much more aggressive toward a problem than we were. A lot of young kids are drugged out and they got a problem from something else and they snap at you. In my shop, I get all kinds, some of the roughest there is. But, what I do, I’m going say something to put a cap on him. When I say cap, I mean I am going to express concern for him just as I do about myself.

"Most of the time, I say something to kids who come with their pants down…I’m totally against it. I talk about it, but I’m going to do it in a proper way so he doesn’t get angry with me. I’m going to say, 'Hey young man, why don’t you pull your pants up? That don’t look right.' And I do it with a smile. I don’t want to make him angry because he probably already has a problem. So, I want to let this guy know that I’m not an enemy to you, I’m a friend. If I’m going to say something to you, it’s going to be of benefit to you.

"I’ve got em in here and say, 'Hey young man, you got a minute? Can I say something to you?' Then, I sit 'em down and show him a picture of himself….maybe he hasn’t seen it in a while. Life is too easy for you to want to take that route. What about yourself? Don’t you care about yourself man? I also go far enough to tell them if you don’t think that you have a better life than what you’re doing with your life I’ll take you up to one of the hospitals. These people would be glad to any of your parts…your arm, your leg, those kidneys, that liver, and here you are bruising that stuff. Come on, stop what you’re doing! These people would pay a million dollars to have a good kidney like yours, a good liver like yours, good legs like you got. Your eyes that can see and you want to destroy it.

"I’ll break that down to them…something like that. Some of them walk out the door and keep on and some of them come back and say they’ve changed their life and I’ll try and help them get a little job. Quite a few of them, I would say a hundred or better. I would imagine that’s part of the reason I’ve never had any trouble…except for one robbery."

To get involved with youth in DC, contact the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Eric and Maddie on DC Hardcore

Eric - "I think that the DC hardcore music scene is something that really attracted me to the city and it's something that is kind of underground and not many people get it, but for the people that do get it, it’s pretty cool. It’s a close knit group of friends that hang out. There’s not a lot of clubs anymore so people are driven to basements."

Maddie – "Mainly, I’ve spent my life in DC because of the hardcore scene and because of my friends. I’ve always been around DC, even when I didn’t live here. Now, people book shows in my basement. Different bands on tour will come and we’ll have a set of five or six bands come and play. It’s cool because a bunch of people will come and I meet a bunch of new friends who show up at my house."

Eric – "The DC hardcore scene has really changed a lot. A lot of clubs have shut down. New people have come in and ruined stuff for the rest of us. But, it seems to be going strong and there is a revival going on – sort of. I got into hardcore through some friends. We used to go to Solly’s, but that place changed...I think it is a sports bar now. Then, we went to Warehouse Next Door, but that closed. There used to be a lot of shows at the Black Cat, 9:30 Club, and DC Mini Gallery on 14th Street, but it seems like hipsters ruined a lot of these venues."

Maddie - "Just a final point, DC hardcore is not all drunk punks. There is a lot of straight edge too which is nice."

For more information on the history of the DC hardcore scene, check out the book Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capitol.