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August 2, 2007

the lily pond saga is now over like 17th St. is over

Yeah, like Bob said, our tagline could be this:

Washington DC - If I can't have anything nice, neither can you

I know it's a petty loss compared to crimes against others, as the epic lily pond saga ended some time last night when someone simply took the whole plant and pot and walked away with it.

UPDATE: oops, the lily & its pot was actually still there, just concealed by the muddy water. It had been overturned, however. So the plant wasn't stolen, but that goddamned varmint is still on the loose! I still stand by my statements that passed-out drunks should be removed from 7-Eleven premeses, however. Read on:

Our neighbors got their bikes stolen last week, buncha shootings this weekend during the silly heightened security media stunt, a rash of recent break-ins, and a robbery at the market a block from where I lived a few years ago got held up. The owner of that store is really nice. Once when I forgot my money, he said I can pay him back later. That was nice.

At my last place the upstairs neighbors got robbed too. So far I've been lucky and have only gotten small things stolen. But basically if you can't nail it down to the floor or ground it's fair game in the city.

Why can't these people envision a better world, and participating in improving this world? Why do they know only to take and never give? I generally like to believe that people are inherently good, but some people just don't seem to have the imagination to visualize a better environment for themselves and those around them. As you learn early in your childhood - there are people who build snowmen, and those who knock them over. Sometimes it's futile to create something that will eventually melt away, but other people just see what you're doing as an opportunity for advancement or idle destruction.

If I may continue to bitch - aren't franchises and chain store business owners in any way responsible for maintaining aesthetics around their businesses? Nearly every day at the 7-Eleven on Rhode Island and 7th, there is the same homeless guy passed out on the corner, laying in his own piss. Isn't there, or shouldn't there be, a law that penalizes the property owners of these businesses to take responsibility for this? The same stories can be told of other businesses throughout the city, including CVS, Safeway, Rite Aid, McDonald's and Starbucks. I'm not on an anti-chain rail here - the truth is that if there is panhandling or a passed-out crackhead on the sidewalk, it's always in front of one of these businesses. Some stores even have their own resident panhandler, much like a club has a resident DJ. I say propose a law that penalizes franchise owners for not maintaining a standard of aesthetics, including panhandling, passed out crackheads and general loitering.

At the moment I'm still glad I'm renting. It seems like certain problems never go away. One day when I no longer need to feel that a certain level of social activity is as important as it used to be for me, I'll be content moving to a less densely populated and better managed urban or suburban area. For now the benefits outweigh the shitty parts - for now.

Posted by jimbo at August 2, 2007 12:10 PM


It's a municipal code which varies from city-to-city. In Seattle merchants are fined for allowing loitering, of any sort. And it's enforced. Up here in Baltimore, I'm lucky if I get in and out of the local 7-11 without being cursed at by a panhandler. Sometimes, I'm even followed, a few blocks by them (with them cursing the entire way). Can't believe someone stole your plant????? Very bad karma!

Posted by: diamondfistwerny (Steve) at August 2, 2007 12:50 PM

That so sucks.

Posted by: Mark at August 2, 2007 2:18 PM

Sorry to hear about the plant. That really sucks. My buddy had a whole Hydrangea stolen from his front yard on Corcoran.

I wonder if this happens in Woodley Park or Georgetown? My guess is no.

Posted by: Chris at August 2, 2007 3:06 PM

Surely just penalizing stores moves the problem somewhere else? If it is one thing we should learn by now it's that laws to remove a problem won't work unless there is the money and initiative to find a solution (blah blah, mental illness, blah blah, racism, blah blah, poverty, blah blah education, blah blah tevas).

Posted by: Gay Canuck in the Capital at August 2, 2007 3:59 PM

Jimbo- I hear and empathize with your frustration. I was thinking just a few nights ago that the racial tension in DC has almost come to a boil like the summer heat. It feels like the city is going to erupt any day now. That being said, the good news is DC is not all that...

I'll cite a few of my favorites (and possible relocation spots in the near term)...

1. Chicago- A cakewalk compared to DC. Decent job market...many Fortune 500 companies... Cosmopolitan, FRIENDLY, educated, etc. The gentrifying neighborhoods in Chicago are "Stepford Wives-esque" compared to DC's "rough-and-up-and-coming 'hoods". Knock an easy $100k off DC real estate prices, and there is your Chicago price tag. Shitty winters, so what...buy some mittens and a snow shovel.

2. NYC (Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn)- The "real deal" and I always feel safer there walking the streets than I do in DC.

3. Seattle- Cosmopolitan, laid-back vibe. No Snow. Good job market. Slightly cheaper real estate than DC. Green and mountainous, water views from every hill in town, and super eco-friendly. It drizzles - alot- oh, well...trade-outs.

Posted by: Curt at August 2, 2007 4:55 PM

Clearly it was Dick Cheney, you know what a fan of global warming he is. More pavement, less green!

Chain stores don't have to care, they can rely on their brand to overcome the panhandling. Locally owned stores, single operators etc. usually do care more about that sort of thing, but their prices might be higher.

I always thought the Jefferson's had the right idea:
Well we're movin on up,
To the east side.
To a deluxe apartment in the sky.

Posted by: copperred at August 2, 2007 5:15 PM

i had neighbor kids break into my back yard and rob me of christmas presents. it's very disturbing, specially when you aren't sure what all they got into or is missing. Hope you get to a nicer neighborhood sooner than later.

Posted by: Tim at August 2, 2007 5:17 PM

Yikes! Sorry to hear 'bout losing the plant, just hope it wasn't the four legged critters getting together and carting it off in retaliation for the chemical warfare you had to try to keep them away. Maybe next time you can wire up the planter to give a little shock to the two legged creeps who did this.

Posted by: Kevin at August 2, 2007 5:27 PM

Perhaps one of your readers took your lily to prevent it from turning into Audrey II.

Posted by: Crumble at August 2, 2007 5:32 PM

A year ago a bunch of grade school students here planted trees in front of their school. The next morning all the trees had been stolen. What the fuck's wrong with these people?

As for the panhandler's...I say the store should pay them a few bucks and call them greeters!

Posted by: rodger at August 2, 2007 6:15 PM

Hm.... Suddenly, living in a "fly over" state doesn't seem that bad after all.

Posted by: Andrew at August 2, 2007 10:00 PM

Ah, ya gotta love DC. When I moved here 5 years back, I lived in Columbia Heights. I had been in town all of 3 days when 3 junior high kids tried to mug me as I walked home from the Metro. I have the scar on my head from the rock they hit me with to prove it. Good ol' DC.

Posted by: Will at August 2, 2007 11:05 PM

Totally agree with your post Jimbo...
I guess haveing grwon up in a small town, like I did, where there is a sense of pride and respect for your space, and those around you, just can't be applied to big cities like DC.
We have had several plants yanked right out of the ground at our condo building...unbelievable.
Such is life in the city I guess.

Posted by: Mike at August 3, 2007 10:06 AM

Let me describe the pattern and explain a solution: drunk guy wakes up to start the day on the corner at 7-Eleven, a convenient place to pass out safely where no one will molest him. In the meantime he panhandles to earn enough money to drink himself to oblivion until about 11am, where he passes out, and remains there until the DCMPD arrives to clean him up, usually around 4pm. This is a daily and predictable cycle.

Break that pattern at any point in the cycle, and the problem is removed - sure, it's removed to someplace else, but at least it's out of my sight. I don't care if it's a disease, a social ill, or due to racism - for all intents and purposes a passed out drunk looks a lot like a dead person, and I don't want to see that every day. It is not part of my projected future, get it the fuck away from my sight.

So here's the solution: the franchise owners or managers at 7-Eleven get off their asses for once and patrol around their business once each hour for litter and drunk people. At this rate they can 'catch' the panhandler before he gets drunk to oblivion, and kindly ask him to move along.

There. Simple solution that only asks for a small degree of civic responsibility on the part of business owners who probably don't even live in DC, and probably don't give a shit about doing business in DC other than to profit from it. If they can't do this simple task willingly, then they should be penalized per drunk passed out in front of their business. It's a simple cleanup, and a simple fine if they don't.

Screw all this pansy-ass kid-gloves approach to the homeless, loitering, and drunks. They get drunk an dpass out on a a predictable schedule, so it is actually relatively easy keep them from getting that way. This involves everyone, not just the residents, but business owners as well, to take part in cleaning up this particularly ugly city BS.

Posted by: jimbo at August 3, 2007 11:24 AM

Funny, but I never see the "same homeless guy passed out on the corner, laying (sic) in his own piss" at the 7-11 on 17th Street. But I guess that is because 17th Street is "over" compared to 5th and V NE or wherever it is you are. Cheers from a Dupont property owner.

Posted by: philip at August 3, 2007 3:54 PM

Hmm...there's always the resident panhandler outside the 7-Eleven across from Rosebud liquor on 17th.

Posted by: jimbo at August 5, 2007 2:46 PM

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