Wednesday, December 14, 2011

More Beltway Beauty Than We Can Handle

Penn Branch Center, charming as ever! (Clockwise from top right) Penn Branch Liquors, CVS Pharmacy, Beltway Beauty and Star Pizzeria, below it.

(Originally published, July 15th, 2009)
She sits at the corner of Pennsylvania and Branch Avenues, this brick and concrete goddess. Our Penn Branch. She sits there, with a mouthful of meatball subs, twinkies and Cool Ranch Doritos and washes it all down with a Colt 45. She sits there, fixing the one good eye she’s got left on you, as your car makes a mad rush for the John Philip Sousa Bridge.

For Capitol Hill. National Harbor. Adams Morgan. Cool places. Exotic places.

Faraway places, where cafes litter the sidewalk. Where laughter, foreign accents and live jazz tease the imported air. Where people linger. Celebrate. Hook up.

I cannot honestly say that I remember the last time I wanted to visit Penn Branch Center, the prehistoric strip mall at the corner of Pennsylvania and Branch Avenues, for anything, ..and I don’t know anyone else, who does, either.

The retail section is pretty small, but not uncommonly so for a Southeast D.C. strip mall. Nearly as large as its anchor store, the CVS Pharmacy, is a beauty supply store smack in the middle of the mall. Just to the right of it, is the Star Pizzeria, which, in spite of its longevity at PBC, speedy service and GREAT double cheeseburgers, hasn’t really been a pizzeria, since the late 1970s. To the left and a few doors down, was Sabin’s Records, a discount records, tapes, CDs and lottery ticket retailer - now ‘CLOSED’. At the Center’s west end, off the corner of Pennsylvania and Branch Avenue, are a Subway sandwich shop and a Wachovia Bank.

Once, the back of Penn Branch Center featured a sensibly sized Safeway, in a time before supermarkets (to compete with malls) blew up to the size of baseball stadiums. Now, there really isn’t anything back there you’d ditch a happy hour to get to. The D.C. Metropolitan Police Violent Crimes Unit, a satellite office for the D.C. Municipal Center and a VERY GOOD cleaners are all very useful to have close by…

But, can they make you a margarita?

Grill you a round of porterhouse steaks for the guys on the blankety-blank team?

Pour you a cup of hearty Columbian coffee?

And why is that important?

Pubs, diners and cafes give people a sense of community - a collective ease with one another. It’s a chance to figure out what we’ve all got in common ..and to gossip about the folks we can’t quite figure out! In my opinion, it’s a breeding ground for a healthy sense of tribalism - that collective self-awareness, out of which a culture grows, is defined, strengthened and proudly celebrated by the group. Without these places, great neighborhoods can become bedroom communities - culturally dead, socially disconnected and unprepared to address challenges to the collective well-being of the people, who live in them.

Am I saying Penn Branch is culturally dead or disconnected? Of course not, ..but, we’re lucky.

I can honestly say that, in spite of its shortcomings, which are LEGION, Penn Branch Center has been a good neighbor, ..and with the upcoming and long overdue renovations, it can only get better. It’s got a hot sandwich ready, when you’re too tired to cook dinner. It’s got your prescriptions waiting, after a much dreaded doctor visit. On occasion, it’s even got champagne on hand, ..on a shelf, of course. That’s a good neighbor, my friend.

You want cocktails, Brangler? Bring your own.

Mel Dyer

Friday, December 2, 2011

Capiwhutzia?

What in Dante's Hell is 'Capicostia'?

There's something about living here, ..in Penn Branch, Fairfax Village, Pope Branch, Dupont Park, Twining, Hillcrest, the Randall Highlands and probably Fairlawn, too, ..that's different than living in other parts of River East, and the culture-angst is something only we can understand.  When you think about it, the only thing separating us from Capitol Hill and everything the Hill represents - sophistication, culture, history, relevance, style - is a stupid bridge and a river, and, while it seems rather inconsequential, we all know it isn't.  Not in D.C.

And, especially, not over there, West-of-river, ..in Capitol Hill, Georgetown, Downtown, No'Ma and Adam's Morgan.

There's a fleeting anxiety among some of us, who live in the neighborhoods along Pennsylvania Avenue, that we're unfairly characterized as less intellectually sophisticated, less cultured (appreciative of history and the arts), less relevant and less stylish than our Capitol Hill.  I would dare say some of us feel unfairly lumped in with the neighborhoods bordering ours, where crime, drugs and other inner city problems regularly make the six o'clock news, ..much to our collective embarassment.

It's something that creeps into your psyche, when we're tooling around Barracks Row or shopping the Harris Teeter grocery on Potomac Avenue or unwinding at Trusty's Bar, this angst, I'm talking about, ..when we find ourselves comparing our GORGEOUS, hilly, tree-lined roosts to the stately old cobble-stoned streets of historic Capitol Hill, where the important people carry on.  When we try on a sidewalk cafe like a shoe we might be buying, ..and finding it fits very well, indeed.  Maybe, better than Fairfax Village?

Video is coming.

Interviews are coming.

New design is here.  Like?

CAPICOSTIA HEAT should give you a feel for what it's like to live here. A feeling that you know us.  I want you to smell this place.

Mel Dyer

[This article was compiled from previous introductions.]

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

5.9 Earthquake In Washington, DC

Washington, DC has had an 5.9 RS earthquake and is expecting aftershocks.



If you're in the area, keep perishable foods, plenty of bottled water and weapons/firearms on hand; you may also want to put some of these items in your auto, in case you must evacuate your house. Please don't forget the water, as it's very hot here in DC.



Keep a half-full glass of water in a centrally visible location and monitor it for shaking. If you think it's something other than an air-conditioner, passing truck or some kind of machinery, head for an exit.



We're okay here, so far.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Another UFO Sighted Over Penn Branch?!


If you missed the International Space Station hurdling over Penn Branch at 9:42 pm (EST), like a flying saucer from the movies, don't sweat it! You can catch it again, tonight at 12:00 am or whenever you like, by checking in with Penn Brancher (and my mother) Shirley Dyer's Space News website, generally recognized by skywatchers and astronomy enthusiasts to be one of the most comprehensive space information portals (list of links) on the Worldwide Web. Look for the 'Daily ISS [International Space Station] Sightings for Fort Dupont Park/Penn Branch' and get ready for one helluva show!

When you look up in the sky on a clear or near-clear night, you will see a scattering of stars and planets - stars blink or twinkle, while planets typically don't. When you notice that one of the planets you're looking at is moving across the open sky, quickly, but, not as fast as a shooting star (meteor), you will know you are probably looking at the ISS, which is roughly about the size of two football fields and moving at a speed of 17,239.2 miles per hour. Unlike the high-flying spy planes you routinely see scouting the D.C. area, which often look like little pinpricks of blinking red and white light, the ISS shows no blinking lights and usually looks entirely white or slightly yellowish white in color, ..very much resembling the planet Venus. Because of the way light reflects from its large, rectangular solar arrays (or shields), it sometimes looks just a little bit, like a giant, beer can floating through the sky...

Or a UFO. Have fun and get over to Space News on Shirleyvision's Astronomy Portal, before you miss the next show!

Mel Dyer

Monday, June 6, 2011

Weiner Exposed And Shaken, After Confessing

Pompeii knew you couldn't keep a good weiner down.

(Yahoo! News)
"After days of denials, a choked-up New York Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner confessed Monday that he tweeted a bulging-underpants photo of himself to a young woman and admitted to "inappropriate" exchanges with six women before and after getting married. He apologized for lying but said he would not resign.

A conservative website that last week started a furor over a lewd photo sent from Weiner's Twitter account posted new photos..."

A difficult, but, all too typical story of political intrigue about a complex and driven man!

Read more of the Yahoo! News article here

Monday, May 2, 2011

Recasting America's War On Terror



As the so-called liberally biased American TV news media intentionally or unintentionally rewrites the history of America's War On Terror with chinny, cinematic video clips of President George W. Bush vowing to get the people, responsible for the 911 attacks, I think it's important to keep the record straight.

As conny bloggers and wingnut journalists ask questions like, "Does Obama deserve credit for killing Osama Bin Laden?" and "Does Bush deserve more credit for Bin Laden's death, than Obama?", I think it is easy to forget the Bush Administration's dismissive attitude regarding Osama Bin Laden's capture. As we give well-deserved credit to the U.S. Intelligence Community and our armed forces for the elimination of the global threat of Bin Laden, I think it's important to remember how many lives had been lost, tracking this guy through the mountains of Afghanistan, at the time that President George W. Bush told us he wasn't concerned about him, anymore.

For all those, who lost their lives on, before and since September 11, 2001, mark and remember the moment above.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Still Think We've Got A Pretty Good Deal Here...Really

Penn Branch may be a little behind the times and short on modern amenities, but we got cars. We can drive, wherever we like.

A major coffee retailer, with a name that sounds something like 'War-bucks', will NOT be coming to Penn Branch or anywhere else in Southeast Washington, D.C. in the Fall of 2011, ..and if you read differently here, and this is a little bit of a letdown for you, I hope you aren't taking the truth too hard. Bummer, huh?

It was all a big April Fool's gag, courtesy of yours truly.

It might be a bitter pill to swallow, but, eventually, we're going to have to swallow it, my friends. The market research for this area (for reasons I won't get into here) is so terrible and nearly impossible to compile, that we are commercially invisible. Besides groceries, gasoline, liquor and a few other things, no retailer can determine, with any measure of certainty, what we are or aren't buying in Southeast or anywhere else, and, without the assurance of nice, cushiony subsidies, aren't willing to take a chance doing business, here. That's our cold, steely reality.

If you think I'm overstating things or being pessimistic, find out what happened to Ben's of Penn Branch. Sometimes, I say 'Ben's of Penn Branch' out loud ..just to amuse myself.

In spite of a few undeniable cultural and eerie aesthetic similarities between our neighborhoods, Penn Branch will never be Chevy Chase, and Fairfax Village will never be Cleveland Park. Skyland will never be Tenleytown, and Anacostia will never be Georgetown or Adams-Morgan. Accept that and see your uniquely appointed neighborhoods, without all the attractive amenities we go elsewhere to enjoy, for what they are - great, if slightly boring, bedroom communities. There are a few I can think of, right here in Middle River East, that are GREAT places to raise your kids, keep a nice lawn, retire and praise the Lord for the rest of your days.

River East may not be what we sometimes dream it could or should be.

God knows I tire of driving all the way to Capitol Hill or Northwest Washington, every time I want to go to a decent restaurant, coffeehouse or see a movie, and I can honestly say that not having those things closer to home keeps me home, more than I like ..or even think is healthy. I'm not twenty-something years old anymore, and I don't feel like somersaulting into my car and driving all over Creation, as much as I used to, and that leaves me out of the loop. It means the New D.C. we keep hearing about - No'Ma, U Street, H Street, Adams-Morgan and rapidly expanding, established areas, mostly in Northwest - is a party you and I aren't invited to, ..but, I still think we've still got a pretty good deal, here. Really, we do.

Really. Seriously...

So, Washington's commercial development revolution continues, ..somewhere else. Somewhere you and I ..aren't? See you at Starbucks ..in Northwest, Forestville, Alexandria and anywhere, but, right here in great, ole Penn Branch.

As you were, Capicostia. Back to your regular programming ..and lousy, instant coffee. Nothing new to see, here.

Go home, now.

Mel Dyer

Monday, April 4, 2011

Coffee Juggernaut Soon To Open First East-Of-The-River Store


A major coffee retailer, with a name that sounds something like 'War-bucks', will be coming to quietly middle-class Penn Branch (Washington, D.C.) in August 2011, and it looks like they may already be hiring.

One of Capicostia’s many routine googlings of ‘retail coffee southeast Washington dc’ produced an employment notice posted for a new “Hillcrest” store here. A reliable source tells Capicostia that the world-famous coffee giant's Penn Branch store will be located between PB Center’s old, broken down escalators and the nail salon, in what used to be a High’s Ice Cream store ..and two doors down from the CVS Pharmacy. Considering that Big Chair Coffee (with GRRREAT coffee and eats) on Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue is roaring into its second year in the River East area, this new coffehouse, while long wished for by many area residents, will not be the first of its kind to cross the Anacostia.

And the commercial development revolution in Old Southeast continues un-televised, ..until now. See you at Stabucks!

Mel Dyer

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Four Times Journalists Held In Libya Faced Brutality


(NYTimes.com)
As the four of us headed toward the eastern gate of Ajdabiya, the front line of a desperate rebel stand against the advancing forces of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, a car pulled up alongside.

“They’re in the city!” the driver shouted at us. “They’re in the city!” Lynsey and Steve had worried that government soldiers might encircle the town, trapping us, but Tyler and Anthony discounted it. We had covered the fall of two other rebel-held towns — Ras Lanuf and Brega — and each time, the government had bombed and shelled the towns for days before making a frontal, methodical assault.

When they did, rebels and journalists fled in a headlong retreat. If Ajdabiya fell, Colonel Qaddafi’s forces would be on the doorstep of Benghazi, the opposition capital, and perched on a highway to the Egyptian border, from...

Read full story here

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bullied Kid Fights Back: Right or Wrong?

This act of bullying, caught on tape, and how the victim responded, is drawing a lot of reaction from around the world.

The kid who was being bullied is said to have been picked on his whole school life. But, after being taunted by another student, he finally snapped and in a physical manner, said “enough”.

The question is, while this child is being applauded all over the internet, is this the way to respond? Many experts will say “no...

Read full story here

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

For pets In crisis, nearby Forestville Vetinary and Bird offers comfort and heart


There's nothing worse than having a sick animal friend or pet in your home, who is ill and cannot speak for itself. It's a helpless feeling, and you want to get your pet to someone, who can help them, as quickly and easily as you can.

For Capicostia, that doesn't mean popping over to Capitol Hill, Old Anacostia or Northwest D.C., where you know there'll be no parking. It probably means hauling your pets out to Maryland's P.G. County, where parking and lots of space for it is practically guaranteed.

That's how I found the Forestville Vetinary and Bird Hospital. It is located on Marboro Pike, right around the corner from the Penn Mar Shopping Center on Donnell Drive, in District Heights, Maryland, ..and it's got more than just convenient parking. FVBH is headed up by Ukraine-educated vetinarian and animal friend-spirit, Dr. Abdoul Diarra, and a caring staff of vetinary students, pet grooming and kennel professionals and vetinary technicians. Rest assured the well-trained staff will surround their patients with warmth, cooing and stroking, before Dr. Diarra's examination of your pets. Furthermore, I liked very much that the FVBH waiting room is spacious enough that keeping your pets out of entanglements with other animals will NOT be a problem.

For pet owners, FVBH is a real comfort in crisis.

I recently took the Poowes (featured above) to the Forestville Vetinary and Bird Hospital and got them all caught up on their shots. Thorough examinations of both Hubble Poowe (above, staring into the camera) and his scrappy brother, Kirby Poowe, and lots of helpful questions from Dr. Diarra, put all of my worries to rest. When your animal friend's in pain the way Hubble was, you don't have time to plan a trip to the vet - parking, traffic, long drive, crowded waiting rooms and long waits. Instead, you want to just go and sort it all out as best you can, later, and that was my experience with Forestville Vetinary and Bird.

I've no doubt, FVBH will be the same for you, and I highly recommend going.

Mel Dyer

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Stand By Your JAMs

If you blinked in the early Nineties, you may have missed this techno/rap/R&B combo platter--probably dismissed it as hallucination, if you did see it!

The video of this KLF song, featuring [I swear!] Tammy 'Stand By Your Man' Wynette, is beyond imaginative. It is absurd, nonsensical and brilliant, and the coolest thing about the song itself is that it takes the sweet, creek-clear vocals of a country music legend, like Wynette (a grandmother, in her Seventies), whom you wouldn't expect to find within a hundred and fifty miles of this pop experiment, and marries them perfectly to KLF's fully-loaded urban, hip-hop-inspired sound.

Ingenius.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rush Limbaugh says First Lady is no swimsuit model

(Yahoo! News)
"Radio host Rush Limbaugh poked fun at Michelle Obama's waistline Monday; the latest entry in a string of conservative attacks on the First Lady's anti-obesity campaign.

During his show yesterday, Limbaugh pounced on a report that the Obama family (minus the president) had dined on ribs while vacationing in Vail, Colo.:

The problem is -- and dare I say this -- it doesn't look like Michelle Obama follows her own nutritionary, dietary ..."

Can somebody tell me what in the hell this guy is talking about?

What are 'First Lady' and 'swimsuit model' even doing in the same sentence, ..without mind-warping drugs that make you bounce up and down at CPAC being involved?

There was a time, some twenty years ago, when my late granduncle and I (listening to Limbaugh's show on tape) were occasionally awakened to something sensible or even clever from Rush Limbaugh's radio program. Something about integrity and the patriotic dignity of independence and individual accountability would occasionally shine through all of Limbaugh's over-dramatized indignation, and we'd both laugh knowingly that we'd got the message, ..but, I guess that was the old Rush.

That was before the ugly, creepy darkness settled in.

Now, Limbaugh seems just a floundering, blustering, mean-spirited buffoon, ..raging against the impending recession of his fading relevance. Now, he just seems painfully inauthentic, and I think the day is coming soon - you can almost hear the dread of it in his latest broadcasts, shadowing his every desperate word - when we just won't believe a damn thing Mr. Flush Dumbaugh tells us anymore.

Read more of the Yahoo! News article here

Clergy Sexual Abuse: It Ain't Just Catholic Priests

(Biblical Evidence for Catholicism)
"...It is commonly believed that clergy sexual abuse is an exclusively Catholic problem that does not happen in other churches. In a 1983 doctoral thesis by Richard Blackmon, 12% of the 300 Protestant clergy surveyed admitted to sexual intercourse with a parishioner and 38% admitted to other sexualized contact with a parishioner. [When Mentor Becomes Molester, by Alexa Smith. Reprinted with permission from Presbyterians Today, Magazine Of The Presbyterian Church, USA].

The Office of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) estimates that there are about 50 clergy sexual misconduct cases every year. Although cases in the PCUSA tend to involve adult women and male pastors, there are sometimes cases reported that involve children and other..." from Dave Armstrong's It Ain't Just Catholic Priests: Resources on Shocking Statistics of Clergy Sexual Abuse

Read more

4 American hostages killed by pirates, US says - Yahoo! News


(Yahoo! News)
"NAIROBI, Kenya – Four Americans taken hostage by Somali pirates off East Africa were shot and killed by their captors Monday, the U.S. military said, marking the first time U.S. citizens have been killed in a wave of pirate attacks plaguing the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean for years.

U.S. naval forces, who were trailing the Americans' captured yacht with four warships, quickly boarded the vessel after hearing the gunfire and tried to provide lifesaving care to the Americans, but they died of their wounds, the U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Two pirates died during the confrontation and 13 were captured and detained, the U.S. Central Command said in a statement from Tampa, Fla. The remains of two other pirates who were already dead for some time were also found. The U.S. military didn't state how those two might have died.

Negotiations had been under way to try to win the release of the two couples on the pirated vessel Quest when the gunfire..."

We oughta' drop these scumbags in the Indian-damned Ocean. Read more.

Above photo: Somali pirates from previous incidents (Wikipedia)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Washington: the 'blackest name' in America - Yahoo! News


(Yahoo! News)
"George Washington's name is inseparable from America, and not only from the nation's history. It identifies countless streets, buildings, mountains, bridges, monuments, cities — and people.

In a puzzling twist, most of these people are black. The 2000 U.S. Census counted 163,036 people with the surname Washington. Ninety percent of them were African-American, a far higher black percentage than for any other common name.

The story of how Washington became the "blackest name" begins with slavery and takes a sharp turn after the Civil War, when all blacks were allowed the dignity of a surname.

Even before Emancipation, many enslaved black people chose their own surnames to establish their identities. Afterward, some historians theorize, large numbers of blacks..."

Then, came Jamal, Tyrone, Delante, Pookie, Booboo...read more here

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi appears on state TV

(BBC News)
Col. Gaddafi signalled his defiance over a mounting a revolt against his rule.

Libya's leader, Muammar Gaddafi, has dismissed reports that he had fled amid the unrest sweeping the country, calling foreign news channels "dogs".

Speaking to state TV from outside a ruined building, he asserted: "I am in Tripoli and not in Venezuela."

UK Foreign Minister William Hague had said he had seen information suggesting Col. Gaddafi was on his way to Caracas.

Col. Gaddafi's statement came after security forces and protesters clashed in the capital for a second night.

Witnesses say warplanes and helicopters fired on protesters in the city. To the west, sources said the army was fighting..."

Don't cry for me, Venezuela? Full story here.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Jessica Alba And Film-maker Cash Warren Are Pregnant..AGAIN!


(People.com)"It's baby no. 2 for Jessica Alba and Cash Warren.

The actress announced on her Facebook page and Twitter account Wednesday that she and her husband are expecting their second child.

"I thought I'd drop by to let you all in on some exciting news – Honor is going to be a Big Sister!" Alba, 29, wrote.

"Cash and I are thrilled and wanted to share the news directly with you so you didn't..."

Full story here

Since the ethnicity of this gorgeous couple seems to pre-occupy some of us, I'll try to simplify things for you, here. Both Mr. and Mrs. Cash Warren are, like yours truly, Americans of Mexican descent--Jessica, with a Mexican American dad, and Cash, with a Mexican American mom. To keep things interesting, you may also like to know that Jessica's mom is of Danish and French Canadian heritage, and Cash's dad is Emmy-nominated star of the classic TV cop drama, Hill Street Blues, and, also like yours truly, is Afro-American.

In D.C., they'd be another cute, Latino couple, and that would be the end of that.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Thank You, Fred Joiner's Weblog!

See who wrote us up on his weblog, right here.

Kendall Anderson, 16, killed mom with claw hammer for taking away his PlayStation...


(NYDailyNews.com)
"Authorities say a young South Philadelphia teen was so angry his mom took away his PlayStation that he killed her with a claw hammer.

The motive was revealed as Kendall Anderson's confession to the brutal crime, committed on the day after Thanksgiving, was read in court, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Tuesday.

The 16-year-old allegedly told police he decided to kill his mother, Rashida Anderson, after a 90-minute argument that culminated in her taking the video-game console away.

Anderson considered his actions before killing his 37-year-old single mother, said the judge who read the teen's statement in Philadelphia Municipal Court. The teen paced for three hours mulling over what he would do before deciding to kill her, said his confession, which he gave to a police detective.

Anderson struck her 20 times with a claw hammer while she slept.

In an effort to get rid of her body, he tried to "cremate her" in..."

Read full story

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Friday Night Lights Star To Head-up David E. Kelley's New Wonder Woman Show!


(Popeater)
"NBC released a wonderful bit of casting news today: 'Friday Night Lights' alum Adrianne Palicki is set to play the title role (and two alter-egos) in David E. Kelley's buzzed about 'Wonder Woman' reboot.

Kelley reportedly has a lot of work to do on the script, but Wonder Woman will have to do some serious heavy lifting of her own. Not only will Palicki play the star-spangled crimefighter, who's now based in LA, but she'll also play her alter-ego, billionaire CEO Diana Themyscira and Diana's mousy..."

Full story here

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Still Lost In Space, After A Week...


Yeah, after a week, Capicostia, successor to the irascible Penn Brangler and the frightfully irregular Mel's Penn Branch Life, is still floating in Cyberspace, undiscovered by her River East sister-blogs. I was warned, prior to The Big Move to this new blogspot, that this could happen, if I didn't mail out engraved invitations to our new location.

I didn't.

I did, however, post a thread pleading everybody, who carried PennBranch.blogspot.com, to change our listing to Capicostia.blogspot.com that would show up as a title on their blogs and hoping that would put our friends on notice. I was hoping, also, to spare them the unsightly matter of carrying dead links, which I hate to find in my own list.

The press for the new direction of this blog, all created right here, toted the Capicostia idea as being a blog about Middle River Easters (D.C.'s Silver Coast), who identified more with the international, big city experience that 'Capitol Hill represents', than with other River Easters. Never intended for that to sound as though Middle River East was looking down on its East-of-the-River neighbors, but, it probably could have been.

If that was taken the wrong way and ham-handedly mischaracterized the residents of Penn Branch, Westover-Highlands, Randle Highlands proper, Twining, Dupont Park, Fairfax Village, Fairlawn and Hillcrest (which has a mighty high opinion of itself) as elitists, I sincerely apologize. It's true that many of us have always seen our communities as the exception to the Beltway's long-standing misconceptions about River East, but, ..for what it's worth, we have also always looked at the most troubled parts of Southeast and asked, "Why not them?"

And we still do.

There's hope...And Now, Anacostia is the FIRST River East blog to carry a link to our new location. Google just started listing us (the full URL), yesterday morning, and I've reached out to some fellow River East bloggers about updating our listing on their blogs.

Like most Middle River Easters, I'm an optimistic fool.

Crossing fingers now...

Mel Dyer

Pa. Teacher Strikes Nerve With 'Lazy Whiners' Blog


Yahoo News, Associated Press
"FEASTERVILLE, Pa. – A high school English teacher in suburban Philadelphia who was suspended for a profanity-laced blog in which she called her young charges "disengaged, lazy whiners" is driving a sensation by daring to ask: Why are today's students unmotivated — and what's wrong with calling them out?

As she fights to keep her job at Central Bucks East High School, 30-year-old Natalie Munroe..."

America's War On Teachers (and it's real) continues, my friends. Speak out ..and be obliterated.

Read more about Natalie Munroe's adventure with the psycho-liberal left hijackers of public education, here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Former P.G. County Executive Johnson Indicted

(Washington Examiner)
"Former Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson was indicted Monday on eight federal charges of conspiracy, extortion and bribery as well as tampering with a witness and evidence. Authorities say Johnson took bribes from developers seeking favorable treatment, and he and his wife attempted to cover it up.

The indictment, filed in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, also says Johnson conspired with..."

Full story here

Haynesworth Accused Of Sexual Abuse In DC


(WUSA9.com)
"WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- DC Police confirm that they are investigating an allegation of sexual abuse against Washington Redskins player Albert Haynesworth.

Haynesworth is accused of touching a waitress' breast while paying his bill Sunday night at The W hotel on 15th Street, NW.

According to the police report, the waitress' hands were full of dishes when Haynesworth wanted to pay his bill and he asked if he could put his credit card in her blouse near her breast area. She nodded yes and he placed the card in her blouse, sliding his hand further..."

Read more here

Obama's Budget Savings: Reduce Federal Travel, Printing Costs and More

(Politics Daily)
"Democrats and Republicans in Congress will battle over proposed cuts in federal programs in President Obama's proposed FY2012 budget, unveiled on Monday. But the administration, seeking to put its own house in order, is looking for savings in many corners of the U.S. government.

The Obama administration is looking to squeeze a few million in savings from reducing federal travel costs, to eliminating printing expenses to painting the roofs of embassies white.

Some samples of savings the Obama administration is proposing that do not need Congressional approval..."

Full story here

Energy Drinks In River East: A Mother's Horror

(Developmentally-Speaking.com)
"“The TV is too loud!" "Turn it down!” “Turn it down some more!” “Turn it WAY down!”

Ok. Now I can barely hear the TV, and am straining my ears to the point of getting a headache. But if I don’t turn it down, then I will hear the crying; loud cursing-like-a-sailor; banging on walls; stomping across the floor; banging doors; and maybe stomping down the stairs; then the glaring, unrecognizably large spirited eyes—all to demonstrate extreme..."


Read more here

Earthquakes Continue To Rattle Southern Chile

(The Santiago Times)
"Seismic activity continues to alarm Chileans

Nearly one year since a devastating 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck southern Chile last Feb. 27, the earth shook once again on Friday afternoon, and in almost the exact spot.

Friday’s earthquake measured a magnitude 6.9 on the Richter scale according to ONEMI, Chile’s National Emergency Office. U.S. seismologists measured the tremor at 6.8-magnitude on the Richter scale.

The tremor began at 5:05 p.m. Friday evening and was centered 30 miles outside of Concepción. Still, the quake was felt from Valparaíso to the Los Ríos Region.

As the Earth continued to shake, people from buildings throughout the city of Concepción evacuated into..."

Full story here.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Allen West Closes CPAC With Fiery Keynote Speech...Warns Of Letting Multiculturalism 'Grow On Steroids'


(The Huffington Post)
"Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) delivered the keynote address on Saturday night at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference.

Topics discussed in West's speech encompassed a wide range. From the state of nation's economy and federal budget to social issues, the congressman covered a lot of ground. He stressed the importance of adhering to conservative principles while also taking time to criticize Democrats.

"Liberal progressivism evolved after our Constitution," explained West to his audience. "It has repeatedly failed all over the world..."

Read more here

Friday, February 11, 2011

First Lady Obama's Retro H&M Polkadot Dazzles and Dares On The Today Show

We tend to want to dress our First Ladies like aircraft carriers sailing off to war. Stately. Imperious. Elegantly invincible.

Clearly, that is not what's happening with First Lady, Michelle Obama - a beautiful, remarkable and magnificent lady - and, in keeping with her occasionally unconventional adventures in fashion, the dress that she wore on her Today Show appearance isn't quite as bad, as you've probably heard.

Firstly, it's not the dress that's the problem, really. The fun begins, when you slap that frilly frock together with a pair of mustard green [Was that green?] or greenish yellow pumps and a melon-toned red belt.

Now, you've got a problem. Not entirely unsalvageable, though.

Match that melon or (maybe) vermillion belt with a pair of vermillion pumps, just like the shoes she wore on that Today Show, and you've got a springy, sassy, runway winner. Seriously - with an adjustment as simple as that, you've got something bold and breezy for an elegant garden party in Spring Valley or Sunday on the Presidential Yacht (if we still have one), ..and all the better on a woman as marvelously statuesque as Mrs. Obama.

You could also tone the whole thing down with a clay-toned (slightly grayish) white belt, but, keep it all a little playful with a pair of pale, smokey blue pumps. Yeah, it's still somewhat on the flamboyant side, but, that 80s kick-thing I mentioned is preserved.

All that said, it's really a cute outfit.

It might be a little playful for a woman of her station, but, cute, ..and whoever put it together should get a little applause for fourteen carat, Viking ambition, if nothing else. Perhaps, this outfit was intended to be an attempt, however wobbly, at recalling the playful audacity and neon kick of the 1980s. If so, it's a cool twist...I get it...bravo.

Joan Collins gets it, too, I've no doubt.

If you're too young or busy to remember the 80s, you just have to trust us forty-somethings on this one. As a colorful Eighties echo, the outfit works, ..and Mrs. Obama's relentless infusion of color, personality and youthfully girlish energy into America's long-standing tradition of dressing First Ladies, like flag-draped monuments, is a breath of fresh air.

All that aside, the First Lady Michelle Obama is held in the highest regards in Penn Branch Park, where I grew up, and the surrounding Middle River East neighborhoods, between here and the Anacostia River. I cherish and applaud her campaign against childhood obesity, which I have been no stranger to, and wish her the best of success in everything she is doing for our country.

Mel Dyer

More on that dress, here

[Mel Dyer is a three-year Visual Arts major and graduate of Washington, D.C.'s Duke Ellington High School of the Arts ..and knows what the hell he's talking about.]

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Secretary Napolitano on E-Verify & Immigration

D.C. To Host Hispanic Business Expo!

(MinorityNews.net)
"WASHINGTON -- On March 16th, the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GWHCC) will host its second annual business expo. The expo will once again bring together business leaders and decision makers from dynamic companies, corporations, embassies and prime contractors as well as federal and local government agencies in the Washington, D.C. metro area..."

Read the full story here.

Fate of Fired DC Teachers Still Up In The Air As DC Decides Whether To Appeal Ruling

(MyFoxDC.com)
"WASHINGTON - District officials have not decided yet whether to appeal the ruling of an independent arbitrator, who says 75 terminated teachers should be reinstated.

The 75 teachers were let go in 2008 when Michelle Rhee was D.C. Public Schools Chancellor. The arbitrator said the fired teachers were not informed of the reasons for their dismissals..."

Read more

Plain, Ole, Stinky Columbia

See that part on the map (below) that reads 'Territory of Columbia'?

What is the point of naming the City Formerly Known As D.C. something like 'New Columbia', if we're all still in the same, old Columbia? So far, our poll reports that there are more people, who want to name our new, non-capital territory just plain, ole, stinky 'Columbia', than anyone else.

Common sense prevailing, I think.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Great Subs At Big Chair Coffee & Grill!


Forget the COFFEE at Big Chair Coffee! The food is unbelievable!

Anacostia's BIG CHAIR COFFEE & GRILL is now THE east-of-river place to grab breakfast! The Bacon and Sausage Omelette (and I'm really not an egg-lover) is phenomenal--a spicy, juicy fiesta in your mouth! What I love about this dish is that the amazing spices light up your tongue, without overpowering the spiciness of the sausage or the smokey flavor of the bacon--genius! If you can't park, this is totally worth calling-in and orbitting the block for--seven or eight minutes, and you got crazy, freakolicious breakfast!

Don't get me started on the BUFFALO CHICKEN SUB! You will want to wear this thing around your neck, it's so GOOD!

And yeah--the coffee's great, too! That's kind of a given, considering it's coming from the same folks, who gave us MURKY COFFEE (a Dyer family favorite) on Capitol Hill! Great, great stuff!

River East's only true coffeehouse is open on weekdays, with FREE WI-FI, from 7 AM, until 9 PM! Get your tusch to BIG CHAIR!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Take The Poll: Flying Bullets, Terrified Whites, Crackheads Napping In The Streets...

Bullet-proof, Amazon yuppies get along just fine in River East, I'll have you know!

People have a lot of stupid ideas about life east of the Big Dirty, and River Easters are fed up! What do you think is the most common 'wrong idea' about our great neighborhoods?

Take the poll on the right and share your views.

River East Renaissance? Did You Get All That?


The Wikipedia listing for Anacostia (here, meaning all of D.C. 'East-of-the-river') ends abruptly with the opening of an unnamed supermarket in 2007. So, where's the rest?

There's Denny's (a Dyer family fave), the Fireside Resaurant, Honfleur Gallery, the River East Emerging Leaders, Ray's The Steaks, the Savoy, the Grays, Big Chair Coffee, Uniontown Bar/Grill, the Hive and two NEW libraries and a museum. All of that is happening right here, in River East, and everyone should know.

So, if you already have a blurb somewhere on all of the above and any new developments I might have missed, send it to the people at Wikipedia, so they can get this right.

Mel Dyer

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Shamefully Stateless Avenue? Don't Think So


AOL News' prodigious 2009 upstart (and a GREAT e-read), Politics Daily, takes a smarting and timely little swing at the latest efforts to shame Congress into moving on D.C. statehood--namely, the re-branding of Pennsylvania Avenue as 'Statehood Way' or 'Voteless' some-such. The short article is written competently by author/columnist, Tom Deimer.

It'll never happen, by the way, for one very simple reason. If shame, and heaping lots of it, is the requisite element in lighting the D.C. Statehood fire, the forces in Congress, who ritually oppose it (like Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell), have none on the matter.

As there are sound arguments on both sides, whether they should or shouldn't be ashamed is a matter to be settled in the court of local public opinion. Not, typically, very forgiving on this issue.

Have a look, here. Then, take the poll to give the State Formerly Known As D.C. a name:

Washingtonia would add an 'i' and 'a' to signs that presently read, "To Washington". Very cost-effective solution.

Columbiana would add an 'n' and 'a' to signs - a similarly cost-effective solution.

New Columbia doesn't make any sense to me, because there was never an 'old Columbia'. There should be, don't you think?

Mel Dyer

Thursday, February 3, 2011

It's East-Of-The-River, Mijo

It's NOT the east-of-the-river you're probably thinking of, ..and isn't that entirely the point of this stupid blog? Here's what CDBaby.com has to say about it:

"...Nina Stern and Daphna Mor began playing together several years ago and immediately felt a unique musical bond...became especially interested in the music of Armenia and the Balkans, finding that that repertory was especially suited to their instrument. Balkan music's virtuosic rhythms and exciting tempi lend themselves to the fleet recorder, and the soulfulness of the Armenian repertory is well suited to the plaintive sound of the instrument. In "East of the River", Daphna and Nina invited their favorite musicians from New York City's classical, jazz and world music backgrounds to collaborate with them. Jazz bass player Omer Avital who has been called "the poet of the bass", composer/accordionist Uri Sharlin and percussionist Tomer Tzur each added his own unique talents and flavor to "East of the River..."

Live a little, my friends...

http://www.eastoftherivermusic.com/live

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

At Ease, With Our Own

Brangler Oppossum (above) is the only thing gathering in these hills, my friends.

(Originally published, July 23th, 2009)
If it seems some Penn Branch folk are always bellyaching about the lack of quailty retail in our neighborhood, don’t judge us too harshly. It’s more than just bellyaching. Prior to the Reagan Era 80s and the Inflation that preceded it, this neighborhood had plenty!

I remember drugstore diners with GREAT coffee, movies at the Hyland Theatre (at the Hyland Cinema, once located next to the Pope Funeral Home) and, with valet, at Coral Hill. There were even several restaurants, a cocktail lounge or two, a bowling alley, ..and all right here, in and around Penn Branch.

I remember seeing my neighbors at these places and the feeling of relaxed belonging and protection it gave me. I remember hearing my father laugh about bumping into Mr. Such N. Such at that cocktail lounge, and how, after the encounter, he’d decided that Such N. Such probably wasn’t such a bad guy, after all. I remember, in passing, seeing the broad smiles on the faces of our hardworking Penn Branch guys and ladies, sitting around the diners and bars, proud that these were our places.

At ease, with our own. The tribalism I talked about, last week.

Today, if there’s a place (besides, the Southeast White House) where Branglers routinely gather, east of Capitol Hill’s Eastern Market and south of the Denny’s on Benning Road, for coffee, margaritas or anything else, it beats the hell outta’ me. Now, people go to Capitol Hill and Northwest for that kind of thing.

The last three and a half decades, post Civil Rights Movement, post-desegregation, post-riot, post-urbanism, post-inflation, has been rough on Penn Branch. We want commercial development and always have, ..but, not the kind that attracts people, who don’t respect or appreciate the wholesome, small-towny, slightly Cosbyesque thing we’ve got going here–the Brangler Way. If gang violence, over-crowding, loitering and the pungent fragrance of urine wafting up Carpenter Street is the price of having a cineplex and steakhouse burgers and a proper bar in the neighborhood, no thanks!

We also like people! We like music, color and laughter in the air!

We like carefree retirees, newlyweds, families and big, goofy dogs! We like to work hard and play harder, and we would love to see Penn Branch Center reflect and indulge all of that, ..but, without making our neighborhood feel like a war zone in a Third World Country.

Not at the cost of losing everything we’ve worked so hard to build and grow here.

Not at the cost of losing our community’s unique identity. Our Penn Branch culture.

Mel Dyer

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

More Beltway Beauty Than We Can Handle!

Penn Branch Center, charming as ever! (Clockwise from top right) Penn Branch Liquors, CVS Pharmacy, Beltway Beauty and Star Pizzeria, below it.

(Originally published, July 15th, 2009)
She sits at the corner of Pennsylvania and Branch Avenues, this brick and concrete goddess. Our Penn Branch. She sits there, with a mouthful of meatball subs, twinkies and Cool Ranch Doritos and washes it all down with a Colt 45. She sits there, fixing the one good eye she’s got left on you, as your car makes a mad rush for the John Philip Sousa Bridge.

For Capitol Hill. National Harbor. Adams Morgan. Cool places. Exotic places.

Faraway places, where cafes litter the sidewalk. Where laughter, foreign accents and live jazz tease the imported air. Where people linger. Celebrate. Hook up.

I cannot honestly say that I remember the last time I wanted to visit Penn Branch Center, the prehistoric strip mall at the corner of Pennsylvania and Branch Avenues, for anything, ..and I don’t know anyone else, who does, either.

The retail section is pretty small, but not uncommonly so for a Southeast D.C. strip mall. Nearly as large as its anchor store, the CVS Pharmacy, is a beauty supply store smack in the middle of the mall. Just to the right of it, is the Star Pizzeria, which, in spite of its longevity at PBC, speedy service and GREAT double cheeseburgers, hasn’t really been a pizzeria, since the late 1970s. To the left and a few doors down, was Sabin’s Records, a discount records, tapes, CDs and lottery ticket retailer - now ‘CLOSED’. At the Center’s west end, off the corner of Pennsylvania and Branch Avenue, are a Subway sandwich shop and a Wachovia Bank.

Once, the back of Penn Branch Center featured a sensibly sized Safeway, in a time before supermarkets (to compete with malls) blew up to the size of baseball stadiums. Now, there really isn’t anything back there you’d ditch a happy hour to get to. The D.C. Metropolitan Police Violent Crimes Unit, a satellite office for the D.C. Municipal Center and a VERY GOOD cleaners are all very useful to have close by…

But, can they make you a margarita?

Grill you a round of porterhouse steaks for the guys on the blankety-blank team?

Pour you a cup of hearty Columbian coffee?

And why is that important?

Pubs, diners and cafes give people a sense of community - a collective ease with one another. It’s a chance to figure out what we’ve all got in common ..and to gossip about the folks we can’t quite figure out! In my opinion, it’s a breeding ground for a healthy sense of tribalism - that collective self-awareness, out of which a culture grows, is defined, strengthened and proudly celebrated by the group. Without these places, great neighborhoods can become bedroom communities - culturally dead, socially disconnected and unprepared to address challenges to the collective well-being of the people, who live in them.

Am I saying Penn Branch is culturally dead or disconnected? Of course not, ..but, we’re lucky.

I can honestly say that, in spite of its shortcomings, which are LEGION, Penn Branch Center has been a good neighbor, ..and with the upcoming and long overdue renovations, it can only get better. It’s got a hot sandwich ready, when you’re too tired to cook dinner. It’s got your prescriptions waiting, after a much dreaded doctor visit. On occasion, it’s even got champagne on hand, ..on a shelf, of course. That’s a good neighbor, my friend.

You want cocktails, Brangler? Bring your own.

Mel Dyer