Apologies


In case you were wondering, my current job responsibilities suck enough words per day out of me to pretty much exhaust any writer-ly creativity I have left in my bones. That’s not to say I won’t write again in this space — I don’t want it to be one of those “the end” type things. But for now, I have exiled myself, for better or worse.

There’s no way I would have found my strenuous lower-middle class job (I jest…it’s actually pretty cool) without this blog and the many dozens of readers it has accrued, so those that argue budding journalists shouldn’t write for free can suck it. Anyone with that sentiment does not know what it is like to enter the journalism job market with little experience.

Finally, I would just like to come full circle and exclaim that yes, indeed, I finally lured monkeyrotica, the famous DC-blog commenter, onto DCCrankTank. His comment can be seen here. Thanks again.

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Independence Avenue: Fright night


Independence Avenue: Fright night

Any sort of editorial comment will only tarnish the beauty of this work.

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Will Feral (the cat)


A couple of the rat-busting SWAT team members linger around off-the clock. Hill East's feral cats are rarely seen during the day but run the streets at night.

A couple of the rat-busting SWAT team members linger around off-the clock. Hill East's feral cats are rarely seen during the day but run the streets at night.

Eastern Market is an upscale area with a lot of beggars in it. And by beggars, I mean vermin.

Perhaps the absolute worst part of living on Eighth Street SE (and there were many bests, don’t get me wrong) was sharing quarters with dozens and dozens of terrier-sized rats. It was a constant battle to keep the wretched beasts, attracted by the wafting scents of Barracks Row’s many mediocre restaurants, away from our apartment.

A few blocks east is a more pleasant insurgent underclass: feral cats (sources within the cat community tell me “alley cat” is a pejorative). The downside: The incessant late-night whining for food, the face-to-face midnight begging when I step off my stoop.

The upside: No rats.

The first time I was awakened by what surely seemed like a crying baby in the wee wee hours, I was startled. Should I call 911? Who left their baby outside? Of course it was no baby, but a clever feline who’d honed his call to one that held the same notes as an infant’s wail.

Now that I realize there is an entire community of wild cats roaming our streets and alleys, I sleep better, even during the meowing months. For when you know there are gangs of hungry wild hunting cats around, you can be sure there are no rats.

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Lights out, where the sun never sets


Sometimes, the intensity of D.C. just saps my own energy. Often the best way to re-absorb the city’s vibe is just to take a walk and soak it all on. The garishly painted rowhouses, alley cats, friendly and (unfriendly) people on their porches — both a cure for the city’s type-A aura and somehow a refresher for the next battle.

On one of our jaunts, we crossed into an eerie zone below Independence Avenue: pitch black. The power had been cut over a several-block swath, and it was truly jarring compared to the usual level of luminosity provided by Washington — and most other cities, big and small.

In the country, and much of the suburbs, you would be a fool to go for a walk at night without reflective gear in areas that often lack sidewalks and streetlights. In D.C., I actually think dusk is the worst-lit time — before the streetlights come on but as the sun wanes.

I didn't know we had two suns.

I didn't know we had two suns.

Walking around in that patch of blackness in late September, it was obvious how impractical a city with low light would be. Everyone and thing is sketchy. A man with flashlight — surely the police. Ah, no just a couple out for a walk. It would be like pinball, bumping from person to person: It’s just too dense for such shenanigans.

Not that there aren’t benefits to places unsullied by light pollution. Even in that limited area, the stars popped like I haven’t seen since my last trek to Maine this summer — beautiful. And it woke up a part of me that forgot what it is like to see actual darkness.

Let’s face it: In cities we have created a world where the sun — so to speak — never goes down. Depending on where I position myself, I can legitimately read outside at night. Heck, Metro stations are harder to read in.

The next time your power goes out, I have something to look forward to, if only briefly: The dark. I’m not as afraid as I once was.

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Get off my blacktop


Apologies for infrequent posting — that’s just going to be the way it is for the foreseeable future. Anyway…

Got to kill some time in an alley or off the-beaten-path corner of the city? Here, let me brainstorm some ideas for you gleaned from my keen powers of observation:

Not just for annoying fellow Metro riders anymore: Feel free to listen to tinny music on your cell phone. You can also practice your terrible rap lyrics. No one’s listening to your embarrassing prose, my man! Make sure you rhyme gun with fun.

Throw rocks at your friends: God knows why one would think a front lawn is good place to fill with pebbles, but it’s a more common move than you think. And in addition to cutting out lawn care (besides  occasional weeds poisoning), you perform a public service for all the little rock throwers out there.

Go ahead, have a drink: The liquor store sells two-packs of 24 oz. Icehouse cans expressly for that purpose. It’s 11 a.m. on a Tuesday. Drink up! And after you’ve had a couple, feel free to …

…take a leak: No one’s watching, anyway. But if you feel a tinkle from skyward, it’s me spraying you with a garden hose.

Set off roman candles: Just go ahead and shoot them off, then throw them in people’s yards. Not just for July anymore.

Rip through at 30 mph while honking: See here for more details. Extra points for backing up in a van that makes a beeping sound or flooring it in a garbage truck before 8 a.m.

Shoot craps: I’d have something snarky to say here, but actually, I have no problem with this.

Croon old soul music: Ditto. Something about the alley’s reverberation actually make this quite pleasurable.

Blast old-school go-go music: If in the right mood, another ditto.

Blast Gucci Mane: Because the only thing better than being awakened at 5 in the morning by the paper guy is getting awakened at 5 in the morning by the paper guy’s music selection.

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Anacostia River: A forgotten connection


The Post did a fantastic job on D.C.’s “forgotten river.” There are photographers, fishermen and activists that all get enjoyment out of beautiful body of water most dismiss as disgusting. Even bleery-eyed commuters rolling over Benning Road or East Capitol Street should open their eyes: The morning mist rolling over the river on a cool, bright day is an invigorating sight indeed.

Personally, I love running on the Anacostia Riverwalk, birdwatching for herons and eagles and sitting at Yards Park and watching the sun set. Unfortunately, doing any of these activities after a rain storm is an exercise in environmental depression. The Post does a good job of explaining why that came to be.

The UFO-like RFK Stadium is surrounded with enough parking for alien's to land their spaceship on, if they so desire.

The UFO-like RFK Stadium is surrounded with enough parking for alien's to land their spaceship on, if they so desire.

The only thing missing from the otherwise excellent package is a link to a great Boswell column on the history of RFK Stadium published Saturday.  The grotesque road infrastructure that feeds into the 50-year-old stadium plays a huge part in the amount of trash and runoff that go right into the water. It’s an article I’d like to have seen written.

While the Redskins and Nationals may have drawn many thousands of drivers in the past, today there are only a handful of events that come close to snagging all the acres of parking taken up by the stadium. And Independence Avenue and C Street NE are overbuilt in the area around the stadium. Six lanes. In addition to tailgaters dumping their grills out feet from the river, plenty of broken glass and food-related trash piles are strewn across the land after even a paltry United game.

The stadium’s employees and mayoral summer job workers do a good job cleaning as they can, but I think it is impossible to ignore that RFK has played a significant part in the pollution and overall deterioration of the river. It takes up huge chunks of waterfront real estate, resulting in vast expanses of asphalt and encouraged speeding and associated trash throwing by making the landscape appear so desolate. The juxtaposition of a waterway and a grey mass of concrete do little to instill pride in the Anacostia.

The river  would get more attention when/if the stadium and its roadways and parking lots are cut back and residents move in as part of long-stalled development. One must only look across the way to River Terrace, a residential neighborhood on the river’s west bank, to see it is entirely possible to be a good neighbor to the river.

Even a new stadium (for United) or perhaps a wholesale retrofitting would be an improvement, with all the “greener” construction methods used in 2011 versus 1961.

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The porous Potomac


Forget Arizona and Texas; it's those D.C.-Va. jurisdictional crossers I am worried about.

Forget Arizona and Texas; it's those D.C.-Va. jurisdictional crossers I am worried about.

Couldn’t help but snap a picture of these two U.S. Border Patrol agents who crossed under the Potomac from D.C. to Virginia with me.

Lord knows what sort of apprehension mission they were on; hopefully trying to prevent unwanted Virginians from coming to party at Wonderland ballroom. But they did get into an animated conversation with my main man to the left.

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