by November 30, 2011 at 9:23 pm 1,456 0


Borderstan: News from Dupont-Logan-U Street

There are two opening receptions for artists on Thursday evening, December 1 on the 14th Street corridor. Both are at local purveyors of high-end furniture and accessories, so it’s a great opp to check out local artists and see some fab items for the home.

6:30 to 8:30 pm at Well Built, 1541 14th Street NW: Well Built presents “HighCrafted for the Holidays”with local woodworkers Caleb Woodard, Kaleo Kala, Andrew Christenberry and Bob Etchells. Works on display through December 31. (See Well Built: Style Meets Sustainability on 14th Street.)

6 to 8 pm at Vastu, 1829 14th Street NW: Vastu presents “Elegant Corrosion,” new photos from noted DC photographer Colin Winterbottom. “Visually organic with an industrial feel, Colin’s pieces from “Elegant Corrosion” would be an excellent addition to any art lover’s collection.” (Vastu)

by November 30, 2011 at 2:00 pm 1,995 2 Comments


Cab fare hearings make for good political theater. (Photo by lightboxdc in Borderstan’s Flickr pool)

From Michelle Lancaster. Follow her and tell her your news on Twitter @MichLancaster or email her at [email protected].

What’s going on with cab fares in DC? Will they rise? Will it be double nothing?It seems the answer is, “somewhere in between.”

After Tuesday’s hearing, the DC Taxicab Commission did not vote to double the rates. The hearing was heated with many different proposals being offered.

Cab drivers complain the rates are lower in DC than surrounding areas (true)… hospitality industry spokespeople articulated the need for better service for a higher fare (seems reasonable)… and ANC 2B-04 Commissioner Jack Jacobson argued for credit card readers and environmentally friendly cabs (most people seem to agree with at least the first item).

Jacobson is the founder of DC Taxi Watch and the group put out a statement Tuesday. “Working with data and information from leading taxicab fleets around the country, DC Taxi Watch has developed a holistic 7-point plan for modernizing the District’s taxi industry,” said Jacobson. “In addition, we are proposing four revenue-raising initiatives that can be instituted without further gouging DC consumers, who already pay some of the highest flag drop and surcharge rates in the country.”

DC Taxi Watch has detailed proposals on taxi cab rate and service reforms.

So what’s the problem? Well, it is precisely the same issue facing Congress at the moment — how do you provide more without increasing the revenue, which is presumably necessary in order to make the upgrades to provide the more/better? If Commission Chairman Linton figures it out, he deserves a higher office.

DCist does a fantastic job of explaining the fact and fiction of the hearing. Their take on what is most likely to happen is an interim fare increase. During this time,  priorities should be (and note the word ‘should’) assessed by need and ‘stand a snowball’s chance in hell’ of actually happening in DC’s highly fractious taxicab world.

by November 30, 2011 at 11:00 am 2,577 4 Comments

Lebodome, George Washington University Colonials

March 4 2006: Students storm the court after George Washington University’s double-overtime win over UNC-Charlotte, securing perfect home record and finishing the season 26-1. (Scott Leibowitz)

From Scott Leibowitz. Find Scott on Twitter @Lebodome. Email him at [email protected].

As I was digesting my very tasty Thanksgiving meal watching holiday football (the games were pretty good) I noticed something on the bottom ticker that seemed unfamiliar.

Places and numbers were rolling by with the title NCAAM and it took me a few moments to place it. In the excitement of the NFL season and my disgust in the NBA returning (it will take me at least ’till April to care if Lebron James can win in the 4th Quarter) I somehow forgot about college basketball.

Where I am from, this could be considered treason.

DC College Teams

We in the District are pretty fortunate in that there are lots of colleges around and all fairly easy to get to using mass transit. As a former DC college student, I can tell you first hand that many of these gyms have great atmospheres with very passionate fanbases.

You would think with so many teams in the city, there would be a great “Battle of the Metro,” but thanks to general stupidity and the stubbornness of one major school (Hint: the metro doesn’t go there) there is nothing but a watered down version. What a shame.

That aside, here is a just a short rundown of what we got in the District.

George Washington Colonials, Atlantic 10 Conference

Smith Center, Blue Line-Foggy Bottom Metro Stop. With no football team this is where most GWU students get their “big school athletics” fix and over the years have had some success. Located right near the White House, the small stadium provides a loud and intimate crowd that gives you a great college vibe. New coach this years hopes to rebuild GWU and take them back the NCAA tournament.

University of Maryland Terrapins, Atlantic Coast Conference

Comcast Center, Green Line- College Park Metro Stop. If you are looking for the bigger stadium and the long basketball history, look no further than the Terps. While a bit far away from Borderstan, the trip is worth it as during their season, they play national powerhouses Duke and UNC. Terps are starting to rebuild with a new coach, and are always dangerous come tournament time.

George Mason Patriots, Colonial Athletic Association

Patriot Center, Orange Line-Vienna Metro Stop. I think of this team as the “the little engine that could”. Never the flashiest or the most talented, but the Patriots always play consistent and clean basketball. They stole the spotlight by making a historic run to the Final Four in 2006 and have since remained on the D.C. map. Just a feel good team that you hope to see in the postseason.

Georgetown University Hoyas, Big East Conference

McDonough Arena, Somewhere on campus-Verizon Center, Red Line- Chinatown. Yes this school has a long and great basketball history. Yes this school gets the exclusive right to play in the Verizon Center. Yes lots of famous coaches and players have been Hoyas. Frankly though, this team will only be OK and is not a good reason for me to be in that neighborhood of D.C. (Plenty of other places to get cupcakes). But if you want to watch the best conference in the country and some of the best programs, Gtown is the way to go.

I know I left out American University and some other smaller schools but these are the teams worth watching. So start watching now, take your mental notes, and when March rolls along, you’ll be ready to dominate your office March Madness bracket challenge.

Thought of the Week

If you haven’t seen the new Muppets movie, cancel your weekend plans and do it. No excuses people.

Links! Links! Ice Cold Links!

  • Never let your sons grow up to be NFL kickers.
  • Washington Redskins Roy Helu has got some hops.
  • This is my favorite shot in H-O-R-S-E.

by November 30, 2011 at 8:00 am 1,998 0

"Borderstan""Meridian Hill Park"

Today is the last day to help rescue Koi from the pond at Meridian Hill Park. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Michelle Lancaster. Follow her and tell her your news on Twitter @MichLancaster or email her at [email protected].

How on earth is it the end of November? It seems the weather is finally recognizing that December is nearly upon us, unfortunately. The rest of us have been jolted into submission by Black Friday, spending most of Monday waiting for a website to load to use a 50% coupon or the arrival of a (shudder) holiday Justin Bieber album. At any rate, here’s the news.

Last Day for Koi Rescue at Meridian Hill Park

The Washington Humane Society says today, November 30, is the final day for volunteers to come out and help rescue the Koi in the pond at Meridian Hill Park. According to a spokesperson for WHS, “This summer, a resident brought several koi fish to the “pond” at Meridian Hill Park in an attempt to beautify his neighborhood. However, the fish multiplied tremendously and now the pond is now scheduled to be drained for the winter season. There was no plan in place for these fish and the community was concerned. When our officers learned that these fish might not survive, they immediately contacted groups across the region to help ensure these fish could be safely removed from the pond and given a new home.

“Eventually, we connected with G and G Aquatics, a trusted organization that serves the mid-Atlantic region including the National Zoo and National Aquarium, who agreed to help to find homes for these fish. The rescue efforts began on November 17, and quickly proved to be a very large task with hundreds more fish than originally estimated, so we have been recruiting volunteers to assist with our efforts and placement as G and G is unable to take additional fish.”

Transience: A Good Thing for DC?

The Washington City Paper takes the positive spin on how transient DC is, citing an expert that finds changes in population may mean more diversity, less poverty and more happiness. While that may mean that few people are born and raised Caps fan (and therefore knew who Dale Hunter was prior to Monday) and Yankees games are promo-worthy at Nats Stadium, it’s a much more pleasant way to view the in and out nature of our population. It’s worth checking out the map and figuring out which states are ‘stuck’ and which are not. I bet there’s at least one that surprises you!

Non-Transient DC: Barry to Run Again

This time, who knows what “b*&^h” set Marion Barry up; for another run at DC Council, that is. The Washington Post got the tip off Tuesday after Barry filed papers to run again in Ward 8. Despite his checkered past, seven opponents and extremely long tenure in DC politics, observers think the seat is his for the taking. Barry has spoken of the importance of job training in his ward, and has recently announced his intent to provide ex-felons protection from employers who are ‘biased against’ employing them given their records. I have to confess, when I heard this news, I thought he was running for mayor again…

What Did the Obamas Buy at Kramerbooks?

If we were like ‘OK’, we’d file this under, “POTUS: Just Like Us!” Alas, we have slightly more self-respect and only cover the literary and fine dining adventures of the Obamas in the news section. At any rate, we told you the family visited Kramerbooks over the weekend. But what did they buy? Find out at Melville House. Am I geeking out that I own and love the first book on the list? A little. Please don’t judge me.

by November 30, 2011 at 6:00 am 1,120 0


“Reflection” is by Jefferson Stovall from the Borderstan flickr pool.

From Luis Gomez. You can follow Luis on Twitter @LuisGomezPhotos and at One Photograph A Day.

Photos of the Day are pulled from the Borderstan Reader Photos pool on Flickr.

Today’s photo, “Reflection,” was taken by Jefferson Stovall, May 6.

If you don’t already have a Flickr account, you will need to sign up for one, and then join the Borderstan Reader Photos group. Already a Flickr member? Join the group! You can submit up to five photos per day in the Borderstan reader pool. We are looking for photos from D.C.’s Dupont, Logan and U Street neighborhoods.

by November 29, 2011 at 5:32 pm 5,496 6 Comments


Northwest corner of 14th and S Streets NW: District Condos project switches to rentals. (Luis Gomez Photos)

See In Pictures: Development Projects Line the 14th Street Corridor (August 11, 2011).

From Tom Hay. Questions for Tom? Send him an email. You can follow him on Twitter @Tomonswann.

In a press release issued this afternoon JBG Companies and Grosvenor announced that the much heralded condominium project at the corner of 14th and S Streets NW would be developed instead as a “boutique apartment building.” When delivered in fall 2012 the seven-story building will have 125 apartments.

Kai Reynolds, a principal with JBG, said “We received a substantial amount of interest in the condominium project, but the strong fundamentals of the rental market and our confidence in the opportunity to deliver an exceptional boutique apartment building ultimately swayed our decision to deliver the project as an apartment.”

The condo project was unveiled last fall at an event attended by Councilmembers Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) and Jack Evans (D-Ward 2). The project was to be called District Condos. The site includes the historic building at the northwest corner of 14th and S that once housed the Whitman Walker Clinic, and the now-demolished one-story properties north to Swann Street. Graham had once served as director of the Whitman Walker Clinic (now Whitman Walker Health)  from 1984 until election to the City Council in 1998.

Whitman Walker bought the building for $1.25 million in 1986. When the District Condos project broke ground, James Nozar of JBG said the condo prices would likely start in the low $300,000 range, with a bulk of the units priced under $600,000 and a few running up more than $1 million.

Projects Underway on 14th & U Corridor

Numerous residential projects line 14th Street from Thomas Circle north toward Columbia Heights. Some of them include –

  • Two condominium projects are underway a block south of the JBG / Grosvenor project — one in a former Verizon building the other on a former Zipcar lot next to AYT Auto Service (which is departing at the end of the year).
  • At 14th and Wallach NW,  Level 2 Development is also readying plans for an apartment building.
  • Across the street at the southweset corner of 14th and U, work will begin shortly on a large 200-plus unit project that JBG is a partner in as well.
  • South of P Street, a small condominium project is in the works for 1328 14th Street, just south of the 7-11.
  • Around the corner on the south side of Rhode Island Avenue developer ABDO  has plans for a building on the last bit of vacant land on that block.

Previous Stories On The Project

by November 29, 2011 at 5:30 pm 1,404 0


Borderstan: News from Dupont-Logan-U Street

While you are buying your holiday tree at the annual Ross tree sale, stop by Ross Elementary School at 1730 R Street NW to meet the faculty and staff, and take a tour. The school is holding an open house this Saturday, December 3, from 10 am to noon.

Check out the DC Public Schools profile of Ross. Ross School has 150 students in pre-K through 5th Grade.

Also this Saturday, from 9 am to 1 pm, the Ross PTA is holding its holiday bake sale. So buy a tree, a wreath and some baked goods.

by November 29, 2011 at 2:00 pm 2,492 0

Mary Burgan, Borderstan Movie FanFrom Mary Burgan. Leave a comment or email her at [email protected]

Hello, again. A big post-Thanksgiving hello to Borderstan’s movie-goers. And an apology for not having said good-bye six weeks ago when I went on hiatus from the Movie Fan column to undergo major back surgery. I’ve been laid up since then. But I have been sustained in part by a magic container of never-say-die stew that was delivered to my house by one of the founding editors of Borderstan — bless his heart.

On Thanksgiving Day, still unable to go to the Cineplex to see one of the glittering holiday releases, as I usually do in refuge from football on holiday television, I managed to find a current highly rated contender on the Xfinity list. So I ordered up Margin Call and my husband and I settled down to watch a big-time movie on a small screen on Thanksgiving afternoon.

Margin Call Great Recap of Great Recession Causes

I can report that Margin Call is a terrific movie, probably the best I’ve seen about the sources of the current recession. It features outstanding acting from everyone in the cast. As a matter of fact, their interactions are so significant that the film doesn’t need a big screen to convey their intensity. Look especially for the work of Kevin Spacey, who should get an Oscar nod — but also pay attention to Jeremy Irons and Demi Moore. Yes, Demi Moore.

If you stick with this film, you will have a better understanding of what happened inside brokerage houses when push came to shove at the start of everything in 2008. It is the best look inside the current recession that I’ve seen, and I’ve see two other great ones — the documentary Inside Job: The Film That Cost Over $20,000,000,000,000 to Make and the HBO made for TV Too Big to Fail. What Margin Call does is to take us inside a firm on the day  of reckoning and chronicle the betrayals as well as the big salaries involved in the entire fiasco.

Next Reviews: What Should I See

Now that my back is stronger and my mind is (relatively) clear, the question is where to restart my movie-going?  I had just seen the excellent Moneyball before I went under the knife, and I had hoped to advise you all to see that movie. But, I couldn’t work that column onto the blog in time. I would have pointed out that Brad Pitt has truly a reputation as a true actor — more than a pretty boy — and that you could learn a lot about statistics and MLB by buying a ticket to that movie. (All I knew about baseball before Moneyball was what MLB means.)

I’ve been given permission by my physical therapist to go to a movie or two over the next week. Where should I go?  There is such a variety on offer at the theaters in this season. Should I take in Hugo or The Muppets or one of the other fun holiday children’s releases? Or should I catch up with J. Edgar or My Week with Marilyn?  And what about a new indie film like the highly praised but creepy Martha Mary May Marlene?

Dear Readers, I could use some help. Write and tell me what to see in the next week or two?

Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving!

by November 29, 2011 at 11:00 am 2,762 0

The annual World AIDS Day candlelight vigil is Thursday, Dec. 1 in Dupont Circle. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Mike Kohn. Got some news for Mike? Find him on Twitter @mike_kohn or drop him a line at[email protected].

Whitman-Walker Health plans to celebrate World AIDS Day in DC with its annual candelight vigil held in Dupont Circle at 6 pm this Thursday, Dec. 1.

In addition to the vigil, WWH will be offering free and confidential HIV testing on Dec. 1 at its Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center at 14th and R Streets NW between 9 am and 5 pm. The tests will also be offered from the mobile testing vehicle during the vigil.

WWH now offers a wide range of medical services and accepts insurance.

HIV in DC: 3.2 percent of adults in DC have been diagnosed with HIV. An additional 2 to 3% are believed to be infected but have never been diagnosed. This means about one in every 20 adults in DC has HIV – WWH.

Wednesday Benefit for WWH

On Wednesday, Nov. 30, Kimpton Hotels is hosting their annual “Red Hot Night in the Nation’s Capital” event to benefit WWH. The event is at Urbana Restaurant & Wine Bar, 2121 P Street NW, 6 to 8 pm; $10 donation at door.

Read more from the Washington Blade, including information on other DC events happening this week to commemorate World AIDS Day.

By the Numbers: HIV in DC

  • According to WWH, 3.2 percent of adults in DC have been diagnosed with HIV. An additional 2% to 3% are believed to be infected but have never been diagnosed. This means about one in every 20 adults in DC has HIV.
  • African-Americans account for three-fourths of all HIV/AIDS cases in DC.
  • One in seven gay or bisexual men in DC has HIV. One in three black gay or bisexual men in DC has HIV.
  • The Washington City Paper City Desk had an article in June, citing numbers of HIV-AIDS in DC and the current status of new infections and people getting treatment — it’s a very good quick read.
  • According to a March 2010 article in The Washington Post, a DC government study showed that 14% of gay men in DC are HIV positive.
  • In March 2009, two years ago The Washington Post looked at HIV-AIDS numbers in DC, which show that it is still a huge health problem in DC, with the city having one of the highest infection rates in the country — 3% of the population, in fact.


by November 29, 2011 at 8:00 am 1,862 1 Comment


The craziness of sales are not for everyone. Mike has tips on how to navigate your merchandise through the remainder of the holiday shopping season. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Mike Kohn. Got an urban etiquette wrong that needs to be righted? Find Mike on Twitter @mike_kohn or drop him a line at [email protected].

I’ll admit that I’m one of the crazy people who go out and shop on Black Friday. I can’t stand the crowds and the lines, and I’ve already made it quite clear how I feel about pedestrians who don’t know how to walk (and suburban pedestrians in the mall are the worst, as I rediscovered this past Friday at the King of Prussia mall outside of Philly), but the deals are just so awesome. Call me a glutton for punishment – but I’m excited about the new stuff I got at pretty outstanding prices.

Amidst my fabulous shopping experiences, I can’t tell you how many times I got whacked in the face, legs, stomach, etc. with people who were way too cavalier about parading through with their shopping bags. So while this may be too late for the craziest shopping day of the year, as we gear up for our holiday planning, here are some things you can do to avoid getting beat up by your own heavy merchandise.

  • Keep your bags close. For crime reasons, there’s a whole other side of this one – preventing snatch and grabs and pickpockets from taking your stuff. But for our etiquette purposes, those things can run wild and will take people out if you’re not careful.
  • Let’s go back to basics here. Remember “please,” “excuse me,” and “thank you?” Yeah, they’re super helpful when people are in your path in a crowded store or street. If you try to push me, I will evaluate if tackling you is the right decision.
  • Along the same lines, plan to actually spend a fair amount of time doing your shopping. Snapping at people for taking too long and running around without any concern for anyone else doesn’t make things go faster. Everyone is doing what you’re doing, so either budget for extra time or stay home and shop online.

Was anyone else crazy enough to venture out on Friday to encounter crazy shopping experiences? Do you have any other tips for shoppers this time of year? Leave them in the comments and let us know.

by November 29, 2011 at 6:00 am 1,152 0


“Gravity Gold” is by pnzr242 from the Borderstan flickr pool.

Photos of the Day are pulled from the Borderstan Reader Photos pool on Flickr.

Today’s photo, “Gravity Gold” was taken by pnzr242 on October 25 at Dolcezza north of Dupont Circle on Connecticut Avenue NW.

If you don’t already have a Flickr account, you will need to sign up for one, and then join the Borderstan Reader Photos group. Already a Flickr member? Join the group! You can submit up to five photos per day in the Borderstan reader pool. We are looking for photos from D.C.’s Dupont, Logan and U Street neighborhoods.

by November 28, 2011 at 4:00 pm 1,484 0

Ross Elementary School, Ross School PTA, Luis Gomez Photos

The annual Ross School PTA holiday trees sale begins this weekend at 1730 R Street NW. Sales will continue for the following two weekends, unless trees run out. An open house and bake sale are on tap for Saturday, Dec. 3. (Luis Gomez Photos)

If you’re ready to buy your Christmas or holiday tree and wreath, you can get them at Ross School PTA’s annual Holiday Tree Sale. It starts this weekend, Saturday, Dec. 3, and Sunday, Dec. 4.

Trees will also be for sale the following two weekends until Sunday, Dec. 18 — or until the trees are all gone.

Hours are 9 am to 5 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, and Ross PTA volunteers will deliver the tree to your home. Location is the Ross School playground at 1730 R Street NW. Prices start at $45 and 50% of the price is tax deductible.

Considering how quickly the trees sold out last year, you’ll be wise to buy your tree and wreath this weekend.

Other sponsors of this year’s tree sale are OLD CITY green, BaseCamp and Borderstan.

Ross Open House and Bake Sale

  • Ross School is also holding an open house this Saturday, Dec. 3, from 10 am to noon. Stop by, meet the staff and teachers and take a tour.
  • In addition, Ross PTA is holding its holiday bake sale this Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm.

UNA Collecting Toiletries for Homeless

In addition, Ross PTA is partnering with the Urban Neighborhood Alliance to collect toiletries for Charlie’s Place. The organization is a support group for the homeless that operates out of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church at 1830 Connecticut Avenue NW. You can drop off toiletry items at Ross School during holiday tree sale hours.

by November 28, 2011 at 2:00 pm 2,652 0

"Borderstan""Aster Da Fonseca", Mid City Artists, Luis Gomez Photos

Aster da Fonseca in his 14th Street NW studio. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Borderstan welcomes new contributor Eliza French, a recent transplant to the Borderstan area. On the weekends you can find her volunteering at the Phillips collection, eating at Hank’s Oyster Bar, or window-shopping on 14th Street.

From Eliza French. Email her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @elizaenbref.

Aster da Fonseca has been a prolific artist since he first began painting in 1996 at age 35. As a new immigrant to the United States from his native Brazil, he discovered an instant affinity for the art form. Using self-taught techniques he closely observed in works at DC museums, da Fonseca brings the memories of his past in Brazil into the present immediacy of his paintings.

His section of a shared studio on 14th Street NW in Logan Circle overflows with varnished acrylic paintings whose bright color shine against on square wood panels. He paints with sponges and spatulas to add on thick layers of paint and manipulate the medium with an almost sculptural technique.

You can see da Fonseca’s paintings on display at gallery plan b in the gallery’s Year-End Group Show through December 24.

Most recently, da Fonseca has been experimenting with abstract works. A group of paintings with boldly colored organic forms floating against a slate gray background comprise his latest work, the “Silver Series.” However, like his earliest works, these abstract ones remain firmly grounded in concrete inspiration. He imagined water as he painted the designs, but what he most appreciates about pure abstraction — as a painter and as a viewer — is that each person can bring his or her own vision into the interpretation of the work.

Pointing out various paintings around the studio, he guides me through his transition from representational works, such as a contemporary take on a Dutch Golden Age portrait, to increasingly gestural works that evoke elements — water, sky — or a specific place. Da Fonseca says he rarely sketches directly on the background or plots the exact composition of a work before he paints.

Although his creative process is free-flowing,  he carefully pre-meditates each work. His Copacabana series, with is undulating curvilinear forms and hot colors, vividly recalls the tropical locale. Da Fonseca shows me a sketchbook of sketches for the series, with early 1900s photos of the Copacabana landscape affixed to the pages. He skillfully translated that 20th Century terrain into series of works that speaks of his personal past as well as a nation’s collective cultural heritage.

As his artistic style evolved, da Fonseca settled into his role within the developing local art scene. Aside from a brief time in Capitol Hill, da Fonseca has lived and worked throughout the Dupont-Logan-U Street area for most of his time in the District. He is a member of Mid City Artists and works in his studio alongside four other members.

Da Fonseca talks easily from memory about the changing gallery landscape, about Paula and Dave of gallery plan b, and about Alex Gallery and Gallery A on R Street. He speaks of other local artists with admiration and laments the historically lackluster coverage of art in local media outlets. There is a high level of competition among many talented artists in DC, and da Fonseca believes these artists deserve more recognition.

At 50, da Fonseca has resigned himself to the necessity of a steady day job with the Brazilian Air Force to pay the bills and provide stability in his life. Still, he wishes he could live life exclusively as an artist working in his studio every day.

Surrounded by the art that track the arc of his career, he says, simply, “I wake up thinking of it, and I go to bed thinking of it.” He may never list “artist” as his official occupation, but da Fonseca’s passion and dedication show through the lines, shapes, and colors of his works.

You can see da Fonseca’s paintings on display beginning November 25, when gallery plan b will again feature da Fonseca’s works in the end-of-year group exhibit, Holiday Art “Bizarre,” through December 24.


"Borderstan""Aster da Fonseca"

Aster da Fonseca works (Luis Gomez Photos)

by November 28, 2011 at 10:30 am 2,472 5 Comments

"Borderstan" "Smuker Farms of Lancaster Co." "14th Street NW", Luis Gomez Photos

Smuker Farms of Lancaster Co. opened a store Nov. 26 at 14th and W Streets NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Maggie Barron. You can reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @maggiebarron.

To me, nothing says “winter is here, time to give up and eat cookies” more so than the seasonal closure of the 14th & U Farmers market. So imagine my delight to see that Smucker Farms of Lancaster Co. finally opened its doors at 14th and W NW last Saturday to help fill the void.

Owner Eric Smucker was at the helm this weekend, welcoming a steady flow of customers. Though the building, a former accountant’s office, had stood empty for five years, it now offers a selection of produce, meat, dairy, bath products, and even furniture sourced directly from 35 to 40 farms in Lancaster County, PA. Most of the suppliers are Amish, which is also how Smucker’s father was raised.

As demand for local and non-corporate food has skyrocketed in recent years, Smucker says the small farmers and producers in Southeast Pennsylvania have seized the opportunity.

“The small producers in Lancaster County are making some really great products, with incredibly high standards,” Smucker told me. “When I was a little kid, Lancaster farmers made farm cheese, Monterey Jack, and cheddar.” Now, the same farmers have mastered fancier varieties, and restaurants such as Vinoteca and The Tabbard Inn are buying it “because the cheese is so damn good.”

Smucker, who used to work in finance in emerging economies, began planning the store back in November of last year. “I initially thought I would want to stay south of U Street,” but his market research showed an opportunity at 14th and W Streets NW.

“With all of the condos, there are a lot of people living here. But the majority of them are doing their grocery shopping a mile to a mile-and-a-half away.” He decided he could offer a selection of what people wanted at a more convenient location. Yes Organic across the street is “a complement, not competition,” Smucker said. “We don’t sell orange juice, and they don’t sell a lot of the things that we have available here.”

As we spoke, a line of people outside the front door waited for lunch at neighboring Martha’s Table. Smucker cringed as his customers tried to navigate through the crowd and squeeze into the store. “They’ve told me they are going to move their line the other direction,” he said gently.

The fact that they are neighbors is an interesting juxtaposition to be sure — the farmers market set next door to a soup kitchen. It’s a reminder of how the tremendous forces of food politics and economics show themselves even at the most local level.

Still, Smucker’s enthusiasm for the job at hand, and for the farmers he sources from, is infectious. “We feel bare right now,” he acknowledged, pointing to the white walls and some of the still-empty shelves, “but we’re expecting lots more.”

That will include whole bean coffee, more baked goods, and a wider selection of meat and dairy. Check them out at 2118 14th Street NW, for more information.

by November 28, 2011 at 8:00 am 2,342 1 Comment

Miss Pixies Furnishings & Whatnot, Logan Circle stores, Luis Gomez Photos

Miss Pixie’s Furnishings and Whatnot at 1626 14th Street NW. Yes, her pink Christmas Tree is up, too. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Mike Kohn. Got some news for Mike? Find him on Twitter @mike_kohn or drop him a line at [email protected].

Rest in Peace“Black Cat Bill” Very Much Alive

November 30 Update and Correction: “Black Cat Bill” is very much alive. The Washington City Paper‘s Ryan Little even paid a visit to William “Willy” Turner. Our original story is below. We regret that our information was incorrect — apologies all around, including to Mr. Turner. – The editors

We Love DC shared the sad news that Black Cat Bill had passed away a few days ago. They said it best, Bill, “the unofficial doorman for the Black Cat on 14th Street NW… was is an institution… for years and years, panhandling in front of the rock club, his signature call of ‘Black Cat, Black Cat, how bout a little change for the homeless,’ is familiar to anyone who ever caught a show at the Cat.”

Walking in Winter Wonderland

The first sign of the impending winter holidays (which looks a lot closer on this side of Thanksgiving) is here! The National Christmas Tree is up, according to the National Park Service. This year’s tree replaces a previous Colorado blue spruce that was replanted on the Ellipse after the previous tree was damaged by a wind storm in February of this year. The lighting of the tree will take place on December 1 from 5 to 6 pm, and the Pathway, featuring trees to represent US states and territories, will run from December 6 to 23, daily from 11 am to 11 pm.

Guardian (Shopping) Angels

This year, the Guardian Angels were out in force, protecting citizens during the craziness that is Black Friday, according to Washington City Paper. Not only did they hand out safety tips, but they also escorted patrons from stores to cars and public transportation and identifying criminals in action, sometimes making citizens’ arrests! We’ll all look forward to seeing the stats from this year’s holiday season. An early thank you to anyone who participated!


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