Friday, September 7, 2018

From Frustrated Facebook Ramblings About Fairfax Village, The Spectre Of Gentrification And Very Real Cultural Isolation

By Mel Dyer
While I don't spend as much time, there, as I used to, I can't give up hope that my home of over twenty years, FAIRFAX VILLAGE, will soon escape the pessimism that some of us have inflicted upon it, since the early 1970s, ..and return to its pastoral niceness, someday. While I have enjoyed friendships, with a wide variety of people from every corner of the planet, I don't think the Village needs cultural OR economic gentrification to make that happen.
Inflicted? Did I say...yes, ..I did. So, what am I talking about?
In the late 1960s, there used to be an Italian restaurant - a RISTORANTE, with a piazza and bistro tables, with candles on them, at night - literally, a mere couple of blocks, from my condo. Long before I moved here in 1995, lovers, old ones and young ones, used to amuse each other, over candlelight, in that piazza, ..right up the street. What happened? I don't care if the lovers are East Indian, Polish, Jamaican, Salvadoran or Cameroonian - I want that, back. I don't care, if it's not as fancy, as the original; I want that, back.

Show me a reason I shouldn't want it...that it's not possible. I want it to matter enough to my neighbors, here and in the surrounding communities, that we don't PEE on it, pollute it with vulgarity ..or fight and kill each other and bleed all over it - enough that we'd keep it decent for our families...especially, the elders, who got us, here. If we'd never had it, I might content myself with seeking such simple pleasures, elsewhere, ..but, we had it.
We had a standard, in Fairfax Village. I want that, back. I want that ..and optimism.

So-called 'big government' can't back up a truck, over here, and dump optimism into our community. It can create tax incentives for venture capitalists, established corporations, sole proprietors, small businesses and prospective homeowners to encourage investment. It can educate our young people to be the next generation of job creators in Fairfax Village. Beyond that, big government, liberal solutions offer very little. I think we need a mix of solutions from the right, left and between to solve the civic problems, here - that's another discussion, entirely.

What's broken in Fairfax Village is more, than social; it's ..cultural. When we Villagers draw a line, at our border, no matter what socioeconomic turmoil is unfolding in the world beyond it ..or what trouble is plaguing our individual, personal lives ..and declare there will be no danger, filth or dysfunction, within, ..we will have turned a corner. The optimism and determination - the revolution - for a better life for our collective, has to start inside the hearts and minds of each and every Villager. I can't give up hope that I will see that cultural transformation take place, here, someday, ..and hopefully sooner, than later.

Maybe, it's time for it. Maybe, the ambitions and aspirations of new villagers, especially immigrants, can infuse our old neighborhood with something it lost ..or never had, in the first place - the determination that, no matter where you come from, a good and better life will be had, here. That Fairfax Village will not fail...period.
No excuses.
In my lifetime, I'd like us to do better, than 'not fail'. I'd like to see us thrive. Again.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Vagrants And Panhandlers Now Endangering Elders And Disabled At Penn Hill 7-Eleven!

In case you haven't been paying attention, CHARACTERS and panhandlers are hanging around our Penn Hill 7-Eleven, now.
As they gather in number - I saw TWO pretty obnoxious ones, out there, tonight - they will create an environment that attracts criminal opportunists. Soon, the word will get out that it's OPEN SEASON on Branchers, we stop to dig in our pockets, open purses, etc, ..creating opportunities for intimidation, purse-snatchings, slightly more violent smash-n-grabs and straight-up ARMED ROBBERY, ..and right in the parking lot! It all starts with a few harmless regulars - characters, we used to call them - hanging out front and in the lot, hustling a little change, harassing passersby, ogling women, dancing [?], prostituting themselves, dealing or consuming drugs and, most importantly, ..distracting Branchers from paying attention to their personal safety.
Popping in for milk and OJ won't so easy, when our sisters, daughters and mothers are forced to sort through all the characters - harmless ones vs. armed robbers - just to get inside the store. And yes, I've actually seen them DANCING, outside the store...flipping around like mackerel, on the walkway!
I will not pay 7-Eleven to disregard the safety of our disabled persons [My sister is one.] ..elders, women and children. Neglecting public safety is disrespectful of our community, and we should not tolerate or support it, with our business.
Is vagrancy tolerated by the 7-Eleven stores in Cleveland Park, Chevy Chase, Georgetown or Spring Valley? I've been to those stores, ..and I can tell you it is not. Are we worth any less, in Penn Branch?
What's the big deal? Where's the harm done, here? The loitering is distracting us all from keeping ourselves and our families safe from potentially more violent crime. That's where the real harm is done.
Let's tell our 7-Eleven owner and cashiers to pay attention to what's going on outside the store AND to call the police, when they see loiterers and panhandlers, gathering. E-mails, tweets and text messages - WRITTEN complaints - make the most impact, ..but let's start out with friendly, neighborly suggestions and see how it goes.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

New York-based Developer And Partners Tell Penn Branch To Get Ready For Gentrification

"...Jair Lynch has set his sights on reviving the long-struggling Penn Branch Shopping Center in Southeast D.C., a site some nearby residents view as an important cog in the revitalization of the larger Pennsylvania Avenue retail corridor connecting downtown with the District’s East of the River could serve as a catalyst for a larger revitalization of the surrounding communities of Penn Branch, Hillcrest and Randle Highlands....

“We’re really trying to bring outside developers to the area to see if they have an interest in redeveloping or enhancing commercial properties in the corridor,” Robinson said. “We see ourselves as a mechanism, or in some cases even starting that conversation. There has to be somebody who takes these issues by the horns and has everybody sitting around the table to solve them.”

Robinson, a planner for the town of Forest Heights in Prince George’s County, said an important factor will be getting buy-in from other Ward 7 residents. Some are resistant to what they perceive as the ill effects of development or gentrification, and..."

Monday, July 18, 2016

One, Big, Little Living Room That's Big Enough For All Of Us..And Coffee!

There're a lot of empty living rooms in Silver Spring. (Photo from
I like coffee, and THIS is the BEST COFFEE in the entire WESTERN WORLD!

I wrote a review of Zed's Café and One Big Living Room, many years ago, on a now defunct WordPress blog, and I might have described little else, but, the coffee, ..which is phenomenal. So, this time, while there is much to praise about this legend of Silver Spring hospitality, I don't want to diminish that one, indisputable fact. Phenomenal coffee! Go anywhere else, where you are poured a cup of coffee, and the quality of the coffee that you will find at Zed's Café will surpass it, every time and at every hour of the day. How does proprietor, Zed Mekonnen, do it?

He has a gold standard.

Zed's Café, in Downtown Silver Spring, delivers the promise of what a cafe serves, coffee, and that standard is never compromised. Ever. The quality of the coffee - a cup of Nirvana, every time - and the paninis and wraps and French, Swiss and Italian pastries and the cheesecake (my favorite) is always deliciously, sensually exceptional. What brings me back to Zed's, however, is more than fine coffee and cheesecake and beautiful, Ethiopian and European women. Yes, these are considerations, ..but, what Mr. Mekonnen has created here - what the local press has consistently lauded - is an experience. Zed's Café is an experience, ..and that, in my opinion, has always been the mark of the most celebrated bistros, bars, and restaurants.

The first thing that strikes you about Zed's is the decidedly Bohemian décor, which is classic coffeehouse vibe - a funky, eclectic mix of mismatched steel-frame dinette chairs, vinyl easy chairs, tufted wingback chairs, elegantly appointed mahogany chairs and tables ..and broad, cushy, soul-hugging loveseats. Wi-Fi is free. The genius of local artists is exhibited on the walls, mixed in with small, framed paintings of exotic places, around the world. There are books, everywhere - shelved on every wall, resting on cocktail tables and end tables, between chairs. Between and around the books, there are colorful figurines and other knick-knacks, scattering the scene, if by a favorite uncle. Somewhat on the small and cozy side - it's not a kiosk, at Safeway - Zed's Cafe looks and feels lived in and loved, as if it's been here, forever, ..and welcoming you to drop by, whenever!

Peep in, at any time of the day, and you will find silver-haired friends chatting, yuppies and bootstrappers tapping away on laptops and flawlessly beautiful East African women doing something, ..beautifully. It's where community groups meet. It's where young couples cuddle. It's where new mothers take a break, with their babies. It's where brilliant protest poetry is written and LIVE blues, jazz and indie music is played. It's where college buddies quietly argue over what's going on in a comic book. The 'friend', whose generosity they've all gathered to enjoy, ..more than the ruggedly handsome bloke, quietly pouring coffee, behind the counter, an authentic feeling of belonging and being welcome, in a familiar place...

And that is a stroke of commercial genius.

Whoever you are, you will not be kept waiting for what you came for, because service, here, is consistently fast and efficient - another standard that is never compromised.

More than Starbucks, and with none of the corporate, mass-marketed artificiality of Starbucks's wannabees, Zed's Cafe is an authentic experience ..that can be as brief, intimate, memorable, amusing or lazy and irreverent, as you like. Whether you are sending in kids for carryout coffee, while you're double-parked on Georgia Avenue, ..or you are digging in, with friends, for light eats and live music, leave Zed's, feeling glad that you dropped by.

Isn't that how dropping by a friend's 'Living Room' should feel?

Zed's Café and One, Big Living Room is located at 8225 Georgia Avenue, in Silver Spring, Maryland, the very gateway of the Downtown district. Go. Linger. Double-park. Carry-out. Taste. Love.

Friday, July 15, 2016

How Exactly Would DC Statehood Benefit Seven Bee And The Rest Of River East?

For the it, really? [Photo from the]

by Mel Dyer

I have very good reasons, being a resident of Ward 7 and ANC-7B, both in River East, to oppose DC statehood.  I'll try to state them, as plainly as possible, here.

Ward 7 simply isn't ready to be a city/county.  Nor is ANC-7B.

Neither have the commercial development or subsequent REVENUE to build strong enough economies to successfully sustain a city or county--to support public works, police, EMS, good schools and to attract subsequently necessary growth.  I see people Downtown, some from Wards 7 and 8, raving about DC statehood, and I continue to ask them how it would benefit Seven Bee and the rest of River East--no answer.  So long as we, east of the Anacostia, have no means of creating industry, DC statehood remains something for affluent people in thriving neighborhoods, like Capitol Hill, NoMa or Georgetown, ..west of the River.

There must be some way to give Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton a VOTE on the Hill, without DC statehood potentially turning Wards 7 and 8 into politically powerless and poisonable cities, Flint, Michigan.  However, until Eastfolk, still chaffing from Walmart and the DC City Council screwing us over on Skyland Town Centre, can be assured that all of the above is possible, thanks.

Furthermore, Maryland hasn't expressed much interest in getting another Baltimore; so, the prospect of DC climbing in bed with her, even if we wanted to be there, is highly unlikely, ..a-aannd she's got crabs. Again...

No thanks ..and no vote.