DT Neighborhood Updates
Stewart and Colbert restore sanity, or something like it
On Saturday, October 30, John Stewart, the comedian turned major leftwing political pundit, aided by inflammatory satirist sidekick Stephen Colbert, hosted a “Rally To Restore Sanity And/Or Fear” on the National Mall, whose massive audience far exceeded the projected volume of participants. Assumed to be a direct counter to Glenn Beck’s “Rally To Restore Honor,” held August 28th and co-hosted by Sarah Palin, Stewart’s gathering seems to have trumped its predecessor.
While it’s hard to gauge accurate headcounts for events like these, AirPhotosLive.com, which takes overhead pictures of events and uses the photos to extrapolate the total number of people, estimated a crowd of 78,000 to 96,000 at Beck’s rally, and an estimated 215,000 for Stewart’s. Granted, Beck shortly after his rally thanked the 500,000 people who showed up for his cause, while Stewart praised the 10 million people in his own crowd and Colbert tweeted an estimated 6 billion attendees an hour before Saturday’s events kicked off.
Numbers aside, the event was an undeniable hit. While the GOP—spearheaded lately by the Tea Party movement—has been making most of the media racket over the past year, Saturday’s rally proved that there are just as many soft-spoken supporters of recent policies and social agendas who have simply not had a viable outlet. In a dazzling display of sheer irony, wit, and irritation, signs and costumes ridiculing the opposition littered the throngs: “Don’t Tread On Me Either,” “Honolulu Is Not In Kenya,” “Frustrated Arizonans Rejecting Tea [FART],” “We Can Disagree and Still Be Civil,” “Fringe Is Decorative, Not Substantive,” “Legalize Marijuana, Quick, Before They Search My Fanny Pack,” “I’m Too Disgusted to Vote” (this particular sign held by a toddler).
And while the crowd elated and Stewart’s veritable variety hour played out before the Capitol building (I never thought I’d see Cat Stevens perform live, let alone in a musical duel with Ozzy Osbourne), Stewart made sure to bring a resounding message home to his masses. This was not a rally with a heavy political agenda, nor was this a rally to pit “us” against “them.” This was a call to arms for reasonability, a reminder to display civil discourse in the government and in life, and a plea for national unity. We must listen to each other, he urged, and not dismiss anyone’s opinions as lunatic or inflammatory. We can all disagree and hold to our own unflappable opinions, but the beauty of this country is that it is allowed. So let us not forget.
Man arrested in connection with bombing plot
A Pakistani-born man who was residing in Virginia was arrested Wednesday, October 27, in connection with an al-Qaeda plot to bomb the metro. According to the FBI, Farooq Ahmed had been observing traffic flow at the Arlington Cemetery, Courthouse, Pentagon City, and Crystal City metro stops. The FBI also said the public was never in danger because they were monitoring Ahmed; people that Ahmed believed to be al-Qaeda operatives were really government officials.
From observing the metro stops, Ahmed deduced that the hour between 4 and 5 p.m. was the busiest time of day. If a bomb were to detonate during this period, the kill-count would be highest. When brought before the U.S. District Court of Alexandria, Ahmed did not enter a plea and told the judge that he did not have enough money for a lawyer.
Due to the event, Metro Transit Police said they are looking into performing random bag searches to ensure safety. The same proposal was made in 2008 but never saw implementation.
Drug busts at Georgetown University shock students and neighbors
At 6 a.m., Oct. 23, authorities ordered an immediate evacuation of Harbin Hall, a Georgetown University dorm, where an alleged drug lab was discovered in a room on the ninth floor. Freshmen Charles Smith and John Romano, both Georgetown students, along with visiting University of Richmond freshman John Perrone, were arrested early in the morning after officials found the suspected lab intended to produce DMT, a hallucinogenic drug, in Smith and Romano’s dorm room. Romano was released and cleared of all charges at a hearing on Monday, Oct. 25th, in U.S. District Court after Smith told officers that Romano was not involved in any illegal activity, according to The Washington Post. Smith and Perrone are facing federal charges for conspiracy to manufacture and possession with intent to distribute DMT. They were then released into the custody of their parents until their next court date in DC on Jan. 24.
Also arrested on Oct. 26 for possession of and intent to distribute marijuana was Georgetown freshman Kelly Baltazar, whose roommate wrote about her knowledge of Smith’s plans to make DMT, according to the student newspaper, The Hoya.
What is drawing equal criticism is the manner in which the police handled the dorm evacuation. Police evacuated Harbin Hall room-by-room that morning, after the fire alarm system failed to go off, frightening many students initially, but worrying them further that their residence lacks a working alarm system. However, according to Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson, the residence hall’s alarms underwent an inspection the previous week and passed fire safety standards, which was confirmed by authorities.
The drug busts took students by surprise. “It’s completely shocking. I would have never have thought that something like this would happen at Georgetown,” student Andrew Strunk told The Hoya. But for many Harbin residents left outside their dorm, The Hoya added, school considerations during a stressful midterm season were at the top of the agenda. “I didn’t get to get my homework and I have a midterm on Monday,” said student and Harbin Hall resident Erica Lin.
Indeed, the Hoya’s lead editorial on Oct. 29, headlined “Damage Control,” lamented the bad press and bad rap for Georgetown and expressed worry that the “drug busts have the potential to harm the long-term reputation of the university.”
Dimethyltryptamine—DMT—is an endogenous hallucinogen, which can be inhaled, smoked or ingested, resulting in dream-like sensations as well as feelings of a near-death experience. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, punishment may involve up to 20 years in prison and fines of $1 million.
‘Adopt-A-Block’ catches on
Here’s the scoop from a worthwhile public effort: “Clean City’s Adopt-A-Block Program helps beautify our neighborhoods and allows citizens like you and your families to take an active role in cleaning and greening the District. As a part of the Clean City Initiative, Adopt- A-Block offers a hands-on project for people and organizations. The program allows participants to make a noticeable contribution to their communities. Citizens said that the government must do its part to keep the city clean, but recognized that government can’t do everything. Teamwork between government and citizens is key. Success begins with one citizen and one community deciding to make a difference.” Each group adopts a minimum of 2 square blocks of a residential or commercial area, agrees to conduct a quarterly, clean-up day and weekly litter pickup in the adopted area, and maintains this agreement for two years. Want more info? 202-724-8967 CleanCity@dc.gov, www.CleanCity.dc.gov
Golden Triangle releases new line of bike racks
Golden Triangle BID put in a new bike rack at 1901 Pennsylvania Ave NW, that is made out of recycled green parking meters. The unveiling occurred on Wednesday, October 27.
The bike rack is named “(Re) Cycle”, and the parking meter heads that comprise it were donated by the D.C. Department of Transportation. Up to 10 bikes can fit on the work of art, which even those who don’t cycle can appreciate.
This is the third creative bike rack to be implemented by the Golden Triangle BID in its effort to promote alternative transportation. The last one, sanctioned in July, was made of oversized paperclips and meant to show business professionals how enjoyable a cyclist’s commute to work can be.
West End Cinema Reopens
After seven years, West End Cinema reopened Friday, October 29, featuring three small screening rooms, each seating no more than 95 people. The theater will show low-profile, limited-distribution independent foreign and documentary films.
Theaters like West End Cinema used to be plentiful in DC, but now only their weathered walls remain, resulting from the rise of larger movie theaters. The snack bar features more than just snacks — sandwiches, salads, hummus and pita platters. West End will also feature a full bar.
The cinema is located at 2301 M Street NW and was formerly the Inner Circle Theater. Co-founders Josh Levin and Jamie Shor hope the theater provides moviegoers with a unique experience they won’t find anywhere else.
Family celebration Harvest Festival
In celebration of American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month this November, Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian is hosting a number of free programs. This Saturday (11//6) and Sunday (11/7), between 10:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., the museum will kick off Heritage Month with the Family Celebration Harvest Festival. Held in the Potomac Atrium, the festival will feature food demonstrations, theatrical performances and crafts.
The festival aims to show participants how Native communities across America welcome the harvest season. This is part of the Smithsonian’s larger theme for the month: Promoting Healthy Families, Cultures and the Environment.
Hands-on activities include cornhusk weaving and masa and tamale making. Local Mayans will also perform a puppet rendition of their creation myth, the Popul Vuh. For more information on the Harvest Festival and other Heritage Month activities visit www.americanindian.si.edu
Georgetown Public Library shines anew
The Georgetown Public Library on R Street held an open house for the Citizens Association of Georgetown, Oct. 25, as library officials welcomed a large, curious crowd marveling at the library’s rebirth, and its increased space from 19,000 to 26,000 square feet. Jerry McCoy, historian at the main branch as well, talked about the April 2007 fire and displayed fire-damaged objects such as the weather vane and the clock (stopped at 12:38 p.m.) and added that he needed copies of The Georgetowner and Georgetown Current newspaper from 2006 and 2007 to complete his sets. With an iPad on hand, Richard Levy of the D.C. Library Foundation asked the audience to “advocate for all the other libraries of the District.” During the presentation, Marcia Carter, owner of the renowned used and rare bookstore, Booked Up (now closed), donated two books from the 18th century to the Peabody Room’s McCoy. Friends of the Georgetown Library also joined CAG and seeks members and volunteers to help with programs and other events at the library.
Support is strong, and history seems to be safe, pending another unfortunate mishap. But we will all keep our fingers crossed. This beautiful new building is one made to stay for many lifetimes. For more information, visit: www.dclibrary.org/georgetown