DCspy discovers community gardening

And apparently I was the last person to do so, which is not a surprise. For, despite being a SPY, I am not the most observant person, nor the most innately curious. Though I do love flowers.

SPY taking a garden stroll

Community gardens take many forms, but after researching, basically the model is as follows: You take a large plot of land, you divvy it into sections, then people (usually backyard-less apartment residents) sign up to get their own section. That way, they can have a little garden to tend for vegetables, herbs or fresh flowers despite living in an apartment. The gardens are also ALL over DC (interactive map, Dupont is ward 2!).

The Temple Garden (15th & S St NW)

Neat no? I obviously wanted one despite the fact I neither garden nor cook, so decided to the check out the Temple Garden at 15th and S Streets NW. Yeah. Turns out, community gardens are SERIOUS. Like super serious.  First off, the wait time for a plot at Temple Garden is a minimum of 3 YEARS. 3 effing years! And secondly, well, from the Field to Fork website:

The Temple Garden is organized by having a president, a listkeeper, quadrant leaders, a treasurer and a Temple “liaison” who communicates with our landowners, the Masonic Temple…. The garden has 4 pages of rules outlining expectations of all gardeners, and enforcement is done by Quadrant Leaders throughout the growing season

Hmmm, a strictly enforced collective garden with a set hierarchy. What does that remind me of…

Come comrade, to our collective farm!

In Russia, garden tends you. Get in line comrades!

So yes, community gardens are for the dedicated, which makes sense given the waitlist. Your beloved SPY falls more into the “flakey” category. However, if you are an apartment dweller, gardener, and can make the time, go for it!

(Oh and the website, DC’s from field to fork network, has tons of tips about community gardens, farmers markets and local produce in general. Just in time for Top Chef!)

Big cats obsessed with Calvin Klein fragrance and other District news

Okay. I know it’s not district news, but just give it a read. According to the Wall Street Journal, scientists have been testing different perfumes on big cats in order to lure them towards hidden cameras/snacks and other things in zoos. Most perfumes, like Estee Lauder Beautiful, have failed miserably. However, Calvin Klein’s Obsession for Men, a cologne branded as “the pure essence of masculinity,” has proven intoxicating to cheetahs, jaguars and all kinds of big cats. Apparently the fragrance uses synthetic animal scents (like civet), to make it’s musk. Ew.

However, Darwinians rejoice. Because you know who wears the pure essence of masculinity, alternating between that and AXE body spray??? THIS guy:

Jon - Kate - 8 + tiger man shirt

Oh how perfect. Could you imagine?? Jon sauntering through the zoo, man-earring glistening in the sun, then suddenly gets maul-loved by a random tiger while wearing an obnoxious shirt of a tiger, all because he used stupid ‘essence of a man’ cologne that is basically artificial civet musk??



Okay, I am done. Here is some other District news:

The owners of Politics and Prose are SELLING the store after 26 years. It will still operate as Politics and Prose (it BETTER dammit) but it’s tough news, especially given the uncertainties of the industry (Washington Post)

The massive old laundry store on 14th street is set to be turned into a massive new Italian restaurant (PoP)

East Falls Church wants a waterfront district. Problem? They don’t have water (Greater Greater Washington)

DC Dept. of Transportation (DDOT) is launching a blog.  Gentlemen (and women), arm your complaints! (DCist)


Happy World Oceans Day!!!!!!

The best of sea creatures ready for the party

Happy World Oceans Day DC!!!! Yes, there is a World Oceans Day, and it was established in 1992 by the UN to honor all the fish, crustaceans and mammals of the sea as well as bringing attention to all the terrible things we do to the sea (cough, BP oil spill).

HOWEVER, in honor of World Oceans Day the Baltimore Aquarium is having events all month to feature sustainable fisheries and things (as an aside, my go-to guide has always been this. USE it). The final Baltimore event is a “Beyond the Boardwalk: On Tap,” which is $55 and has samples of local, sustainable seafood as well as microbrews from the area. DC’s own National Aquarium also has an America’s Aquatic Treasures exhibit:

Entrance to the sad little DC aquarium

The DC aquarium was always the saddest of aquariums. Located in the Commerce Department basement, the coral in exhibits was just plaster painted as coral and water was often on the floor. In the small cramped setting there was this bizarrely brightly painted mural, which reminded me of being in a Wes Anderson movie or something. However, per their website, they have RENOVATED! Huzzah. I have always liked this underdog of aquariums, so VISIT.

OR just go to a Jaleo location for their annual DC Paella Festival, and eat cute little sea creatures with rice. Not sure if the dishes are sustainable (they should be, giving the timing), but paella is delicious and sea-related so I threw it into the post.

DCist paella picture

OH. But one thing you shouldn’t do? Boycott BP gas stations. Yes, the spill is a DISASTER and although BP should pay 1000 times over for it, it’s looking like it won’t cost them much.  And no, big oil, the ocean will not “just take care of itself,” (Exhibit A) no, it doesn’t “naturally leak oil so it’s okay” (I’m serious, that was a defense). HOWEVER. Boycotting is a bad plan. Most gas stations are independently owned and operated, which means you are just shooting the messenger.

Look. If you don’t want oil spills in the gulf, don’t use oil from the gulf. And if you must use oil from the gulf, don’t let oil companies self regulate. And that’s that.

Trio, the Greeks, and DC’s diner drought

So since we are reeling off a holiday of freedom, I figured I would discuss an all- American classic today: the diner. Well, all-American in theory at least, because immigrants own basically all of them. The same immigrants that are, god love them, making food in the U.S. and the Queen’s commonwealth not, well, this:

Stupid haggis and stupid casserole

Everyone loves imported culture! Anyways, perhaps because it’s an inherently transient town or because it’s a much more Southern town than NYC or other diner hot spots, DC has very few independent diners. It’s why you should visit Trio. Started by a pair of Greeks in 1950, Trio serves no-frills comfort food, bakes their pies fresh every day, and has a very nice staff. They also serve a nice greasy spoon diner breakfast, which I love because I love PANCAKES. In honor of their 60th anniversary, they are doing little monthly specials.

A little DC diner classic on 17th Street

So you should go. Then Trio’s owners can send the money back to Greece to compensate for the fact the nation doesn’t really pay taxes but demands tons of social services. Oh, and sidebar, Greece, you are NOT an emerging market. Mostly because you were the FIRST MARKET EVER. So either you have been emerging since Jesus or you overspend on wages and social benefits. Just saying.

Oh and before I forget…

Trio also owns Fox and Hounds bar next door, which is actually called “Trio’s Fox and Hounds.” However even though they both offer cheap, outdoor after-work drinks, Fox and Hounds is always packed while Trio’s patio never is. Evidence:

Bizarre no? People would rather sit in the baking sun at Fox and Hounds than drink in the shaded and fanned space of Trio. And they are the same thing. I don’t understand people.

Cat “tweeting” and why civilization will destroy itself

Oh Jesus. Every once in awhile things are invented for the seemingly sole purpose of showing us why humanity is doomed. Things like segways, the KFC double-down, Justin Beiber, baby cages, dog snuggies, fake ponytails and now THIS:

twitter collar on a stuffed cat because no cat would ever wear it

The cat twitter collar. Yes, it is what you think it is. It’s a stupid collar that you attach to cats that has a sensor that can tell what the cat is doing and tweets some stupid message. Like if it the cat is eating it tweets, “mmm. this fish is delicious!” and if the cat is sleeping is says “swoooo twiwerd” in a baby voice and millions of cat people lovingly squeal because Snookins is “talking.”

Mazel Tov Snookins

God, I feel you Snookins. Because, for him, this is nothing new. His life has been one of torture. Cat leashes, cat “spas” (because cats love strangers!), cat photo ops, creepy snuggle sessions with “mother,” so honestly, why not cat twitter?

THIS is why civilization will destroy itself. It’s only a matter of time. It’s pretty much the premise of the movie Idiocracy (great concept and terrible movie by the way). Basically, stupid people reproduce at a faster rate than smart people because smart people weigh the consequences, which will inevitably result in stupid people running the planet and watering all our crops with Gatorade instead of water because it has electrolytes.

Cat twitter just brought us one step closer. Bravo.

(Oh and if you have free time, TIME magazine just listed its 50 worst inventions of all time. worth a read here)

DC gets all Jazzed up: June 1-13th

Ok kids. It’s the annual DC Jazz Festival and you should go. Because for all the criticism DC gets about it’s lack of art scene, conservatism, trend-unawareness etc., one of the things we do have, and have always had, is jazz. Duke Ellington, Shirley Horn, Billy Taylor, and Frank Wess (among others) all hailed from our town, while jazz clubs are scattered all about the city if you know where to look.  I know I will be stopping by.

DCspy attends a musical event

The DC Jazz Festival is the city’s biggest jazz show. For the past five years it has been called the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival, a name planners changed this year in order to focus more on the city’s jazz legacy rather than the individual. The festival, like most things, has hit tough economic times this year, dropping their large concert on the Mall as well as their closing concert at Voice of America. However, these large events have been replaced by a proliferation of small ones, many of which are free (or like $5) and take place everywhere from museums, to bars, to supper clubs, to concert halls. The entire schedule is here.

There are 4+ events PER DAY. DCist also lists their favorite event each day and a runner up (full list here). I would look at the full list and the DCist one since I know very little about jazz so can’t give an educated recommendation to you all. But here are some of DCist’s FREE top picks:

Included in the top picks are also ticketed events (not listed), but the most expensive tickets seem to be around $40, which really isn’t bad for the quality and the venue. Most are around $20. I mean, $20 and you can go to a supper club and have food and listen to wonderful jazz!!! Perfect date. So GO.

Big plans for the Dupont Underground and a bit of afternoon news

I know, you are confused. “But SPY,” you say, “today isn’t Friday,  why are you doing news”?? Well, half of it is for me. I had limited internet access in the Far East, so wanted to see what was happening around town. Also, I MAY have forgotten to post on Friday due to airplanes and deliverable due dates (yes, I do have an actual job) so this is sort of compensating. Also, this Dupont Underground thing is super interesting.

The Dupont Underground by Mika Altskan

Basically, there is an 100,000 square foot stretch of abandoned trolley tracks beneath Dupont Circle that the city is planning to turn into an art/cafe space. Per the website:

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Why did Mark Souder cheat? DC made him do it

In one of what seems like 27352604 pro-abstinence, pro-bible, anti-gay (apologies, pro-”family”) cheating scandals, Mark Souder (IN-3), cheated on his god-fearing wife with a female staffer. Sigh. Here we go again. The tears, the appeals for JC’s forgiveness, the blathering on about losing sight of some ambiguously-defined values, and of course the explanation of WHY.

Ah yes, the eternal, CRAZY question of why an unattractive, arrogant politician surrounded by younger people that care far too much about about his opinion, would trade in fidelity with his wife back in Indiana to sleep with a young piece on the side. Hm, let’s think. Could it be because he was an unattractive, arrogant politician surrounded by…. no, no that’s not it. Sex addict? No, that would mean it was his fault. I know, how about the “poisonous environment of DC?” That’s it! Per Souder’s resignation:

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Trends that need to disappear: Fancy Jumpsuits

So as I am sitting in Jakarta, i.e. one of the few places in the world where I could actually make it rain (seriously, the exchange rate is like 9000 Rupiah to the dollar), I started thinking about money. More specifically, all the clothes I would buy if I actually HAD money. Then I naturally started thinking about all the horrid things celebrities buy even though they DO have money. One item on that stupid trend train?  The fancy jumpsuit:

Oh jesus god the fancy jumpsuit. Fancy jumpsuits are one of those trends that come along, like high waisted tapered pants, JUICY ass-pants, harem pants, and no pants (i.e. leggings as pants), that I cannot understand. They are universally unflattering, encourage el camel-toe, and, though they come in different shapes and sizes, all end up looking either like superhero costumes, fancy pajamas, the wardrobe of Dynasty or a combination of the three. They are also guaranteed to be completely out of style in 6 months, which means they are only for those who can afford to light money on fire.

People. You are young. You have wonderful figures. Just slice the jumpsuit into a top and pants, make sure each is flattering, and we are in business. Do it for the rest of us who live vicariously through your millions. Please. For the children.

D.C. Church makes U.S. List of Most-Endangered Historic Sites

Ah, Wednesday. The week is halfway over, the Wizards got John Wall (i.e. the killer of NCAA brackets), and I am trying desperately to see Jakarta before I leave on Friday. However, as I was googling various ways to see Jakarta’s historical sites, as Jakarta is officially the most pedestrian unfriendly city in the PLANET, I came across this Washington Post article on one of DC’s own landmarks: The Metropolitan A.M.E. Church.

Photo by Ricky Carioti-Washington Post

The Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church is on M Street near 15th Street NW. The oldest continuously black-owned property in DC’s original 10-mile area, it is about to be named one of the nation’s most endangered historic sites by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Fredrick Douglass prayed there,  Rosa Park’s funeral service was held there,  Booker T. Washington and Eleanor Roosevelt spoke there; it was a center for integrated worship in a time where segregation was very much alive.

Scaffolded and sandwiched between offices

And have I been there?  Sigh. No, I haven’t. I don’t know what it is about people that makes us go to every length imaginable to see even the most mediocre of sights in a foreign city, while never really thinking of discovering our own. It’s not like when I moved to DC, I couldn’t have benefited from a guidebook. I just never thought to buy one. I mean, I was a local, why would I need to?

But now, looking at the church’s predicament, I feel like I neglected my town. Metropolitan A.M.E needs $11 million to repair the water damage, collapsed roof and a whole host of other problems in order to stay open. $11 million it doesn’t have. So yes, I think I am going to visit, give my meager donation and show some support. You should too.

You should also look at the other 10 nominees to the most-endangered list. One of which, the Wilderness Battlefield, is also close to home and in danger of being torn up by… you guessed it, Walmart. Because who needs history when you can buy guns and cheese puffs at bargain basement prices?