Category Archives: here – reality called.

your weekly cheap plug.

This week’s edition of Transit on Thursday (authored by yours truly, as usual) is now up at DCist. This week’s main talking point: are the Red Line’s morning rush hour trains scheduled too close together? (Hint: yes.)

Discuss over there.


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Filed under for the district., here - reality called., required reading.

listservs are fun, before the morning coffee.

You know, I’ve put some serious thought into making this into a blog where I just highlight ridiculous things from the numerous listservs that I’m on, but I think it might be better to keep it as a once in a while thing. It’ll be more fresh that way.

But anyway, here’s an excerpt from an email that got sent out on the Cleveland Park listserv, which basically tells you everything you need to know about the neighborhood:

Just a quick note to report yet another mischief/criminal type
incident in the neighborhood. Two nights ago a couple of the houses
in the 3100 block of Rodman Street were pelted with eggs. As best we
can tell, it happened in the middle of the night and the eggs were
thrown at the rear of the houses and onto the rooftops. One window
was broken. Nothing was taken–more mischief than crime but a real
pain to clean and, of course, repair in the case of the window. An
empty egg carton with an unfamiliar brand (not typical of the local
grocery stores) was found nearby.

Oh noes! Egg-throwing? We should probably call Homeland Security on the double. This gets double stupidity points for actually coming on the heels of a few emails about people attempting to break into houses by asking for people that didn’t live there. (You know, it’s really almost the same level of crime.)

I mean, the last time I checked, kids get the summer off from school. But don’t ask me – I just watch a lot of Law and Order, and probably aren’t qualified to make conclusions regarding this hideous and unsolvable crime against humanity.

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Filed under for the district., general stupidity., here - reality called.

human nature.

I’m a big proponent of the idea that basic human nature is blind to pretty much all outside circumstances. I’m not really a philosophy scholar, so there’s probably an actual theory that states this, but I’ll call it the “sibling theory.” As in, no matter the actual parameters of any situation, people will want whatever other people around them receive – whether that would be a material good, a service, or something immeasurable, like love or praise.  It’s the same as when you were a little kid and your brother or sister got a treat – you aren’t probably sure why they earned that treat – only that they got it, and you didn’t.

Case in point: I’m standing in line at the bank this afternoon to make a $30 deposit. Nothing fancy. One check, and a two-second process. I’m standing behind four or five people, who look like they have serious business to conduct with the lone teller that is manning the branch. (For instance, the man that occupied the window at this point didn’t really understand the phrase “I can’t do this at this branch.”) A kindly woman must have saw me holding one check and a deposit slip, so she walked up to me and kindly offered to take the check and deposit it herself, without me having to wait in the line. That was very nice. But the woman in front of me saw this happen, and proceeded to pull out a humongous zip-lock bag of bills and change. Of course, the lady couldn’t take this, because a check is much easier to just pop in a box and deposit at the end of the day than $3,000 in random bills and change.  She didn’t like the fact that I got to leave before she did.

I’m not saying her reaction was wrong – I wouldn’t be pleased about standing in line for a while. But she had to understand that she wasn’t going to be able to deposit that cash with that woman (and frankly, I wouldn’t really trust having that much money just floating around unsecured). Just an example of that “sibling theory” that I notice, almost all the time.

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Filed under here - reality called.

abbreviated thoughts on target.

OMG, new cart escalators!

On a more serious note: the fact that the “job application kiosks were full at around 9:45 a.m.” means that the Target (and the mall as a whole) is at least fulfilling one of it’s primary objectives – supplying a large amount of employment to a city that needs some in order to continue a positive trend in unemployment rates which has flattened in the past two years. Now, if it only follows through on raising property values in Columbia Heights and fostering more growth in the neighborhood, then it could be a smashing success.

Plus, you know, now I don’t have to drive to Rockville to buy socks.

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Filed under for the district., here - reality called.

i wonder what the market’s like for a “professional ironer.”

From a message that I just recieved from my friendly neighborhood listserv:

Our long time maid has given up house work and is devoting her efforts
to ironing. She’s been with us for 30+ years and is very nice and
works hard. If any of you have need of a part/full time ironer, please
let me know…

Wait, what? I too have a “professional ironer,” although they go by the more common name of “dry cleaner.” Or, in a lean month, “Aaron.”

Not to be crass, but there can’t be any real money in this, can there?

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Filed under general stupidity., here - reality called.

saturday morning newspaper.


To me, there really isn’t anything better than waking up on a Saturday, pressing some coffee and sitting down with the Washington Post. And no, I’m not one of those people that read the Times even though they don’t live in New York – unless you count mingling amongst the columnists online, or perhaps the occasional crossword (of which yesterday’s version just absolutely crushed me. It wasn’t even close). Nope, I’m a WaPo reader, because I think it’s important to read your local newspaper for, what else, the local stories.

When I get the paper, I don’t just read the front page first. I pull out the Metro section. The B section. Because while reporting on Kosovo and the election is great and often entertaining, it’s not anything that isn’t available from 689,000 other outlets, most of which are a Ctrl+T and a twenty-letter web address away (and, unsurprisingly, are of better quality). The metro section is where the newspaper’s character lies: stories about immigration in Prince George’s County, crime in the area that affects people I know who live in those neighborhoods, farmers markets, reactions to the local storms of this week, and so forth. These are the things that matter to me in my everyday life – and I guarantee you that CNN is not running a think-piece on a spike in lead levels in some DC tap water.

This, I think, is to blame for the decline in print media over the past few years.

In their infinite wisdom, the men and women who run the gray ladies of this country had a decision to make about fifteen or twenty years ago that would significantly alter the future of newspapers in America. With digital and televised cable media becoming such a force, something had to be done. On the one hand, the choice could have been made to increase the focus on local events, thereby making the newspaper into an even more relevant piece of a person’s every day life. The other option was to attempt to make every newspaper into a carbon clone of the ones that are heartlessly pushed out daily by the Tribune Co. and every other massive conglomerate that doesn’t really care that you can’t read about, as long as they’re selling car ads.

So, guess which option prevailed?

From an essay in this month’s Esquire by David Simon (creator of The Wire and former reporter for the Baltimore Sun):

And I am still as clueless as the captains of the newspaper industry when it comes to the Internet, still mistaking the Web as advertising for the product when, in fact, it is the product. I don’t yet envision the steep declines in circulation, the indifference of young readers to newsprint, the departure of display advertising to department-store consolidation and classified space to Craigslist.

Admittedly, I can’t even grasp all of the true and subtle costs of impact journalism and prize hunger. I don’t yet see it as a zero-sum game in which a serious newspaper would cover less and less of its city — eliminating such fundamental responsibilities as a poverty beat, a labor beat, a courthouse beat in a city where rust-belt unemployment and crime devour whole neighborhoods — and favor instead a handful of special select projects designed to catch the admiring gaze of a prize committee.

Simon knows. This is why no one is actually reading newspapers anymore – there’s nothing in them, for the most part that truly resonates with them – only pieces that are bred to win Pulitzers and keep the newspaper in business as nothing more than a relic of the way things used to be. The newspaper is such a piece of American arcana that it will never truly die, only slowly mope into a state of meaninglessness and antiquity.

But I’ll still enjoy it with my coffee this morning, while it’s still got some legs. To section B, long live section B.

[photo by Chris Cantrell.]

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the definitive dc transportation wishlist.

Richard over at Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space has a lengthy revised wish list for District urban infrastructure/transportation changes and additions. If you’re living in the area, take half an hour to read this and discover that you want pretty much everything included within.

Personally, I’m a big proponent of a streetcar link that roams across Rock Creek Park from Woodley Park to Columbia Heights/U Street – if it’s part of a larger link system, even better. Right now, here’s my options for visiting friends in that area of town from my place:

  • walking, which is not happening in inclement/humid weather or under any sort of time constraint;
  • gambling heavily with the ludicrous “Adams Morgan/U Street Link” bus – which usually takes longer than walking. (Every fifteen minutes during rush hour and weekend nights, that’s the biggest crock from WMATA, an organization that has plenty of ’em. The last time I used it, a Saturday night around 9 pm, it took forty minutes for a bus to arrive.);
  • or, taking the Red Line all the way into Gallery Place-Chinatown, then back out to whatever stop on the Green Line.

A street car running across the Duke Ellington bridge seems the perfect solution. Make it happen, powers that be.

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Filed under a big scary blogosphere!, for the district., here - reality called.