Tuesday, July 21, 2009

a proverbial e-bone to pick

I read this post on a blog named after the 42 bus this morning and it made me extremely depressed for two reasons. The first is because it poses the hipness of a neighborhood rests on how locally owned the coffee shop is:

"Nothing says you are are a bonafide, made-it, DC neighborhood than a locally owned coffee shop. These indie establishments give a sense of place to an area, some ownership to the residents-customers and provide a gathering place where neighbors can at least look at, if not interact with each other."

Maybe I don't get this because I don't drink coffee. Or maybe my standards are just wildly high. But one goddamn "locally owned" coffee shop does not a decent neighborhood make. Sure, it might make it slightly more pleasant if you're into that sort of thing, but I hardly believe they give a "sense of place to the area." Whatever that even means...

The writer goes on to give Dos Gringos as an example of this, which, as far as I can tell goes speaks little of the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood, where it's located. If anything, a trip to Dos Gringos makes you feel like you're NOT in the neighborhood. First, only, um, gringos go there. You can probably blame that on the name or the food, which is mostly vegetarian. The real locals, the people who plan to reside in the neighborhood longer than it takes them to buffer their law school applications or whatever, eat at the Peruvian chicken place across the street. Or Burritos Fast. Or, my personal favorite, Don Juan's. Those places give "a sense of place to the area." Maybe. I still can't figure out what that phrase means...

The other reason why this blog post upset me is because of its total misread of Marion Barry's career:

"For a civil rights worker, the mayor who initiated a teen summer work program and helped jump start U Street's revival, Marion Barry has seemingly thrown away second chance after second chance. He trumped critics by winning the mayorship and then a council seat after being declared politically dead, but Barry has come into some more trouble as of late. In 2009 he's been maligned for his anti gay marriage views, public sex life episodes and job hiring oddities. In the eye of his supporters, he still on top. Considering that, I think should quit while he's ahead; i.e. retire after his current term is over."

Not that I'm pro-Marion Barry in any shape or form, but how the f*ck does that last sentence even make sense? If he's "still on top" according to his actual constituents, you know, the people who vote for him, then why the hell would he quit now? He's proven that he can probably rape a sheep inside a locally owned coffee shop and still win by a landslide. He's not the problem. His supporters are for electing him. And, by the way, a little more research would show that his stance against gay marriage was largely supported by his constituents, who, lest we ignore this fact again, are the people who elect him. And we wonder why Congress is reluctant to bestow upon DC legitimate voting rights...

Now, I really don't mean to be mean, er, that mean as I have nothing against the author of The 42. I just completely disagree with his or her analysis on these topics. Then again, I also bike rather than ride the bus, so maybe I just see this town differently. To each his or her own, I suppose. I would, however, welcome a rebuttal from the author or anybody who could possibly defend the above ideas. Although the chance is slim, perhaps I misunderstood something. At the very least, please explain what "a sense of place to the area" is. If there's anything I like more than complaining, it's learning. (Hard to believe, but I'm serious.)


nate said...

I believe "a sense of place" is Gentrification speak for "not an evil corporation". So they get to talk like they're all community oriented without actually having to mingle with said community. But, hey, I could be wrong. I did grow up in suburbia.

Ben (The Tiger in DC) said...

My "sense of place": I "sense" that I am in a "place".

Just give me a nice apartment or condo that isn't infested by the creepy-crawlies and is near mass transit (until I finally get my driver's license, and then it'll be "so long, suckers" when I get my piece of land and my guns).

Johnny Velvet said...

Burrito Fast is disgusting. Seriously.

Anonymous said...

I thought "Yoga studio is the new coffee shop" would have driven you over the edge for some reason :)

Rosenberg! said...

Thanks for the comments on my blog. I'm going to come to your blog regularly when I move to town so that, after a long day of wonkishness and quiet desperation, I can read it and think "thank god not everyone is sucked into this weird little universe!" By the way, that is an awesome icon up top

Tim said...

That post made some people laugh and some people very angry for some reason.

I won't spend time refuting your opinions, they seem OK to me.

But yes, it was a pretty funny piece I wrote on a whim and has pressed some buttons; good and bad.

Thanks for reading.

M@ said...

OK, well how about if the locally owned coffee shop is owned by minorities? Is that cool?

Btw. I had to go to court today stemming from incidents w/ some folks I met after I got an idea from a post of yours some weeks ago. So I'm blaming you for the restraining order and the legal fees.

Tim said...

I love coffee. There's a link on the sidebar of The 42 all about my visits to coffee shops. If you have the time, it is pretty informative about the particular venues.

About the court thing, I'm curious as to what the details are. I've never been an accomplice of sorts for illegal activity.

Marissa said...


I can one-up you there. I didn't even grow up in suburbia. I'm straight out the woods. Raised by wolves and such. I never heard of gentrification really until I moved here...

In Moscow they just called it "remodeling."


I'm not so much into the condo as I am having a plot of land I need to protect with a gun. One can dream...

johnny velvet--

I refuse to believe that. It's got the best/most pragmatic name for an eating establishment I've ever heard.


That was a close third.


Thanks for stopping by here. I'm glad my continued unemployment is enjoyable for both you and me.


Like I said, to each his own. You definitely brought up some interesting ideas!


Court? I don't think I've ever suggested people do anything illegally here. And if I did, I certainly would advise you not to get caught. As for a minority-owned coffee shop? I don't discriminate when it comes to douches sipping lattes.

tim (again)--

Ah! If only I drank coffee. I'd certainly utilize that. Alas, I'm a tea person. And only the decaffeinated kind...

Ben (The Tiger in DC) said...

Not kidding re the guns.

It'll be a while till then, but I'm probably going to get an M-1 Garand soon from the CMP.

(Or rather a friend is getting one for me, and I'll bring it back either at Thanksgiving this year or next year. (Spent a while this afternoon looking up the laws about transporting firearms across state lines and registration requirements. (No registration requirements, and I just have to make sure not to fly through Chicago, as they tend to arrest people travelling with firearms, even if legally checked.)) Need to find a range or club somewhere near DC/NoVA where I can practice/learn marksmanship.)

Debbi said...

God. You're right. That paragraph with the "sense of place" sh*t is simply dreadful. (And I even like coffee.)

As for Marion Barry, what more is there to say? He could bugger sheep in every coffee shop in town (quite possibly he already has) and survive politically in DC.

Which, in itself, may provide a "sense of place to the area," I guess.

Tim said...

come on now, this is pretty easy.

sense of place = i see a place (let's say dos gringos) and i immediately know i'm in mount pleasant. tryst/adams morgan, the big chair/anacostia, st. elizabeth's/congress heights, uptown theare/cleveland park and so on.

since there is only one of each of these eentities, they are easily assocaiated with the neighborhood in which they reside. as opposed to say, starbucks or 7-11. you could really be in any neighborhood.

tough crowd, tough crowd.

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