Monday, March 31, 2008

ward 8's giant

last fall, a new giant grocery store opened in ward 8. there was a lot of fanfare, since this was the first full-service grocery store to be open for business in the ward since 1998.

almost 10 years without a grocery store! it's hard to believe, and it's a pretty terrible indictment of the entire community when you think about it. the businesses, the people, the one went above and beyond to make sure that people in the poorest and least-served part of the city had local access to food. FOOD! (and no, rap snacks don't count as food.) next to water, it's one of the obvious staples of existence (and wasa managed to convince a lot of us that they haven't been giving us access to decent water either).

anyway, after the initial flutter of attention, i never saw any of these journalists heading back to the "camp simms giant" to see if it was living up to its promise. after the first week, would the store still be getting fresh produce? would the shelves be stocked? or would the lack of attention from the outside world lead to this diamond in the community's eye losing its shine? i thought i'd go check it out and see.

i had time on saturday to burn in the morning, and i needed groceries, so i thought i'd head down that way to check things out. what i found should make everyone who uses the shaw giant excited and worried at the same time.

first of all, this was a suburban-style store. the huge sea of asphalt out front and the strip mall out front (in addition to other out-buildings under construction on site) make comparing it to the columbia heights giant or the future shaw giant a dicey proposition. but, the square footage is similar to what we've been promised in shaw.

the store inside is terrific. the produce is still fresh (better than what i usually see at the shaw store). the aisles are all well-stocked (better than the half-empty shelves i sometimes find in shaw). the store was sparkling clean. the shaw store is often really dirty. i know they're probably much busier that the ward 8 store, given the density in eastern ward 2, but if they know that, they should know what effort needs to be put into running the store.

the coolest things about the interior are the light and aisles. the aisles are much wider than the shaw or columbia heights stores. at least it feels that way. maybe it's just 5 or 6 extra inches, but if feels like you can move around there without bumping into people.

the lighting is the coolest thing about the whole store, though. there are dozens of large skylights in the roof, bathing the store in natural light. i'm sure it saves on electrical costs, and it gives the store an airy feel. i have no pictures of the inside of the store (because i figured i was weirding the employees out enough by walking around with my mouth agape), but trust me on this. you have to go just to see that, it's that cool!

make a trip down there and check it out for yourself. especially if you live in shaw. if this is the kind of store we can expect in the future, i think we'll be in good shape. i did say that we should be worried about something, though, and it's this: can giant deliver a store that nice and get the staffing right? i was happy for the workers to see that they've settled on a deal ahead of a possible strike. but, i hope that there are concessions in the deal that would lead to better attitude from the workers. say what you want about whole foods, but it sure as hell is nice to deal with workers who don't find it bothersome to check you out, or look for something that isn't on the shelf for you. i have had terrific help at giant stores, but that's been the exception, not the rule. it HAS to be the rule going forward though. the stores have to give a shit if they want us to keep shopping there!

driving directions from northwest DC: get to south capitol street, go across the bridge, and get on the suitland parkway. the second traffic light will be for stanton road. turn right there, go up the hill, past alabama avenue, and turn right on savannah street. the giant will be just ahead on the left (parking on the right).

bloggers calling it quits

let me just start by saying i'm not going away here. i know posting has been sparse lately, but i've been quite busy. i have some ideas for future stuff, though, coming soon.

brian has shut down his blog at off seventh. he's a great guy. i've talked to him online more than a few times and finally got to meet him in person at the dcist holiday party back in december. i understand the burnout factor...his job has him traveling all over the place, so i'm sure the last thing you want to do when you're back in DC after a long time on the road is write something that's going to get you worked up. it can be the opposite of relaxing for some people.

mari has mused about how she'd shut down in shaw someday. she's been posting a lot lately, so i don't think that's happening anytime soon.

anyway, i just wanted to say that i'm still here. it's a giant ego trip to write a blog, assuming that people actually care what you have to say. hey, sometimes they do. glad to know that people care sometimes....

Saturday, March 22, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: big crash in bloomingdale

at the corner of 1st and S. more details soon.

UPDATE: well, the best information that i can gather is that a chase that began in mt. rainier (just across the district line) came all the way down rhode island avenue. the kids in the burgundy car turned south on north capitol, then took a right onto S street. they ran into the black SUV on the corner of 1st and S, smacked into the damaged tree you can see in the pictures above, and came to rest at the end of the line of cars parked on the northwest corner of 1st and S. at least three parked cars were damaged.

the woman who was in the SUV was badly shaken, but apparently walked away of her own volition. the jaws of life had to be used to cut out the person who was in the front passenger seat of the chased car. the driver of that car was knocked into the back seat from the impact. those two and one other young male were taken away in ambulances to the hospital.

i heard this all from talking to 5 or 6 neighbors who were standing on the corner, so it's not an official account of what happened. everyone seemed to agree on the big parts of the story, though.

on a personal note, my car was 3 down from the corner. too close for comfort.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

official business?

i just left happy hour at the beacon bar and grill for a co-worker and friend who's leaving DC, and i saw this car parked out front.

what kind of official business was the commissioner from anc5c05 on tonight? seems kind of far from his her jurisdiction.

Monday, March 3, 2008

UPDATE: record shattering treebox vodka cleanup this weekend!

UPDATE: the shaw cleanup has been moved to sunday, due to the heavy rain expected tomorrow. all other details (time, location, etc.) remain the same. see you then!

ok, so i'm going overboard with the exclamation points lately!

but seriously, this month's treebox vodka neighborhood cleanup is happening this saturday, march 8th, at 10:30 a.m.

we're aiming for 30 people (which is about twice the usual turnout). lets have a record group showing they care about our part of town!

follow that link above for details, but if you want the basics, just be at 7th and rhode island (where the 7-11 is) to help make shaw a nicer, cleaner neighborhood.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

hooray for giant in columbia heights!

i just stopped into the giant in columbia heights for groceries. usually, if i'm going to giant, it's to the one next to the rhode island avenue station, or the one in shaw. suffice it to say, i'm used to terrible service.

not so in columbia heights today!

i just want to give a shout out to cynthia, who was checking me out, and davon, who was bagging. they were like a well-oiled machine, scanning, bagging, and smiling in one fluid movement. i swear i've never had such a good experience checking out of a grocery store in this city.

note to giant: clone these employess now.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

sobriety checks?

check out these pictures from the corner of 1st and seaton on thursday (february 28th) night:

there were at least two police cruisers on each side of the corner, and officers were walking up and down first street, stopping cars and talking to the drivers. was this a sobriety checkpoint, or where they looking for a fugitive? something else entirely? anyone have an ideas of MPD procedure that would lead them to do this?

the neighbors are watching you

this was on the bloomingdale email listserv yesterday, and i feel it deserves a wider audience:

I just wanted to let the neighborhood know that I just wrote an email to Dana Jones, the CEO of UPO about a transaction a few days ago between a person delivering food from UPO to the residents of the basement of 62 T St. NW.

These are the same residents who were the center of a task force raid in the fall of last year due to their drug dealing and use. On Monday [2/25/2008], while the UPO employee was supplying the residents with enough food for a month, he followed the male occupant into the basement empty handed, even though there were a few more loads of food to go. He returned a few seconds later and continued unloading food, then the resident reemerged and subtly handed the driver some cash that was rolled up.

I guess my personal opinion is that the resident's shouldn't be receiving support from UPO because they are more than capable of getting a legal job that provides income. You can agree or disagree with that, but I think that we should agree that UPO shouldn't be providing these residents/drug dealers with customers disguised as noble employees.

Moreover, as I was writing that, I overheard the male resident from 62 T St. NW trying to quietly sell a TV/DVD player and a Stereo to another neighbor a few houses down. So if anyone is missing these items, 62 T St. might still have them, although it looked like he was trying to unload them pretty quickly because as soon as the neighbors told him they weren't interested he ran down the street looking for more buyers... or more things to sell.

I guess the point of this is to let the community know that we have problem residents in the neighborhood, and we aren't going to let their actions go unnoticed.

there are positives and negatives to the proximity of urban life, and lack of privacy is one of those things. i'm not going to say which category that lack falls into. one thing i do believe is that it's a good thing when people in the neighborhood look out for each other. i do feel that there is a fine line that can be crossed when keeping an eye out for illegal activity.

simply 'strange' behavior might catch your attention, but if people aren't breaking laws, then hey, don't bug them. but if there is a criminal enterprise in the neighborhood though, i think it's fair that it gets rooted out. if someone is fencing hot items out of their basement, that can only be a magnet for bigger and more heinous criminality.

of course, the issue of guilt is not one that we, the neighborhood, can determine by simple observation. but, if there is reasonable suspicion that something nefarious is going down here, i think it's only fair that the police check it out.