Monday, February 18, 2013

The Historic #Errandonnee: In Which I Wander Clarendon

Arlington has a curious and accidental history. [Old Map] As many know, Arlington was originally part of the District of Columbia.  But D.C. found Arlington defective and returned it to Alexandria, Virginia.  In time, Alexandria found Arlington defective, and Arlington became its own county. The boundaries of what is now Arlington county are essentially the old boundaries of D.C.

Arlington's history as part of the United States goes back to the founding of the country.  Plantation land in Arlington was owned by the Mason's, the Washington's, the Custis', and the Lee's. During the Civil War, Lee's plantation was confiscated and Arlington was part of the defensive parameter of forts, protecting the capital city.  All the trees were cut down to build forts, for farm land, and as part of the defense.  Eventually Arlington returned to being a rural suburb of chicken farms and dairy farms (the last dairy farm in Arlington was Reevesland, which is now Bluemont Park, WOD and Kenmore Middle School). The last of the back yard chicken farms disappeared not so long ago.

Arlington historically embraced smart growth.  In 1932, addressing the cacophony of street names and inconsistent little neighborhoods, Arlington renamed all of the roads creating the current grid system of names and numbers.  When the subway came along, Arlington embraced it - but fought both plowing the subway down the center of 66 - and letting 66 sprawl out into a multilane highway (like 395).  Arlington elected to create an urban corridor, the only suburb to build subway station corridors where the stations are walking distance one to another.  

Today's Errandonnee picks up in Clarendon. My first stop of the day was at the Arlington Post Office.  Established in 1937, the Arlington Post Office was an attempt to begin to band together the loose confederation of neighborhoods that made up Arlington.  Prior to that time, Arlington mail was handled in Washington D.C. Mural's of Arlington history, painted in 1939, can be seen on the inside walls of the Post Office.

My next stop was a repeat lunch Errandonnee to the Delhi Club in Clarendon for lunch.  In the 1970s, Vietnamese moved into Clarendon and the community came to be known as Little Saigon. But by the late 1970s, the Orange line of subway was under construction, disrupting business.  Many of the Vietnamese businesses elected to move out of Clarendon, and established the Eden Center out at 7 Corners.  When I moved back to Arlington in the late 1980s, Cafe Dalat and Little Viet Garden were some of the few Vietnamese restaurants still in Clarendon. They too have have since closed, giving way to high end, bland hipster joints.  Nam Viet is probably the last remaining Vietnamese restaurant from the 1970s community (although marking a return, a new Vietnamese restaurant has opened in Shirlington).

Next, I stopped to do errands at Whole Foods, Revolution Bikes, and Walgrens.  Whole Foods used to be the Sears Garden center.  Sears closed, and then reopened in 7 Corners, in a building that use to be Woodward and Lothrop.  Walgrens, a new edition, used to be a tire store.

From here I moved a few blocks west, intending on getting coffee. First I stopped by the Arlington War Memorial. Originally located in Arlington Cemetery near the tomb of the unknown soldier, the memorial was moved to Clarendon.  On the West side of the memorial is the names of those who gave their lives during World War I.  On top are the names of the whites who gave their lives; and on the bottom are two names noted as "colored."  I recall at one time there was discussion about redoing the plaque and removing the segregation - but I believe it was concluded it is best to also remember that part of history as well. 

I intended to stop for coffee at Northside Social. Located at a historical intersection of trolly lines from Georgetown and Washington, the coffee house was originally a trolley station.  When I moved to Arlington, the building had deteriorated and was a junk shop.  Clarendon was still struggling after the subway construction, which made access to Clarendon difficult and disrupted the economy.  When the junk shop went out, a local member of the clergy established Common Grounds, as a third place coffee house supported by the church - one of the original wifi coffee houses.  While it occasionally had church functions, its dominant culture was George Mason Law students. It was a great joint where I spent many an evening writing. Common Grounds struggled - and eventually was sold to Murky Coffee from Washington D.C.  Murky Coffee struggled and went out.  The coffee house then took on its new hipster haven, Northside Social.  I've never been. I tried to go to write this blog but the Hipsters crowd had firm control of the situation so I moved on to Ballston for a lame coffee at an uncrowded COSI. 

Ballston Mall was originally Parkington.  Parkington was an ambitious commercial venture.  I recall my mom saying that the construction of the Mall was insane, as no one would venture that far out into the suburbs to go to shopping (the major department stores were all downtown at what is now Metro Center).  Of course she was right; no one goes there - but only because even bigger shopping malls were build in places like Tyson's Corner. There was a Hot Shoppes and a Putt Putt golf right outside of Parkington.  Now the county is deliberating what to do with public land right outside the Ballston Mall parking lot - and is considering building a Putt Putt golf course.  Ah, the cycle of history.


Friday, February 15, 2013

The #Errandonnee Errand

In which we make an errand out of Errandonneering at the Friday Coffee Club.  

This morning's errand delivered us to Errandonnee Central Office (aka Swings Coffee) for libations and celebrations.  Epic tales of errant quests were retold around the java, as young errandonneers were forcibly restrained in blue snuggies lest they embark prematurely on perilous errandonnees.  With but five days left to complete our quests, Errandonners carefully crafted weekend centuries thus to complete a cacophony of cares.

Raise, therefore, a cup of jo,
Salute those valiant few
Who venture forth
Through spit and sleet and illegal U turning cabbies
Down forbidden river walks
To buy bolt or book or broccoli
Who hath motivation to venture out on frigid (57 degree) winter day
Set forth with haste to CVS to buy dental floss
And Cyclists in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their bicycles cheap whiles any speaks
That cycled with us upon an Errandonnee

We few, we happy few, we band of Errandonneers.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

#Errandonnee the Fifth: Packard Radio Test Car

After bicycle-skating over the pop-up black ice lurking on the Custis Trail, I magically found myself repetitively returning to the identical location as yesterday, only today the Errandonnee destination was a library (it may look like work, it may be as boring as work, it may have all the complementary white noise as work - but today its a library).  And while its probably sacrilege to go on an Errandonnee and celebrate a petrol burning vehicle, here's what I found in the library:

 This is a Packard Radio Test car, circa 1926.  According to the display in the library:
"Under the Radios Act of 1910 and 1912, the Department of Commerce received the authority to monitor and inspect shipboard radio equipment, license radio operators for that equipment and prevent interference between stations. Prior to 1930, there were few radio services. The primary users of the available frequencies were ships, coastal stations, point-to-point telegraph, AM broadcasting, and radio amateurs with the radio amateurs far outnumbering the other radio operations. The budding AM broadcasting segment of radio operations began to grow phenomenally after he start of KDKA in a basement in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1921. Licensed and unlicensed broadcast stations were in service, causing a need for a frequency monitoring facility.
"The Radio Division in the Department of Commerce in Chicago, Illinois used Packard radio-test cars and other equipment to determine the best location for a Central Frequency Monitoring Station. After an extensive search, the flat prairie region of central Nebraska, specifically, an area six miles west of Grand Island, Nebraska was selected because of its superb reception conditions, central geographic location, and freedom from nearby transmitting stations. The original track of land for the monitoring station was comprised of 50 acres, which was purchased in April 1929 for the sum of $1, from the estate of Fred Matthiesen, Jr. The 47th Legislature of Nebraska passed a bill in 1931 that allowed school land to be purchased by the Department of Commerce for the development of a radio monitoring station.
"At the Sesquicentennial Exposition honoring 150 years of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which was held in Philadelphia in July of 1926, displays on the growth and greatness of our country were emphasized. The Radio Division, Department of Commerce had a varied exhibit of radio equipment which included a model of the latest Packard Radio Test Car. The task of building the model was quite an undertaking in both time and money. The finished model cost more than one of the original Packards. Every single part, both inside and out was hand made. The model Packard Radio Test Car was housed in the museum portion of the Grand Island Monitoring Station until 1994 when it was sent to FCC headquarters to be warehoused."
 I have now completed 11 errands and gone more than 30 miles (my Errandonnee Score Card).  Can I please go to sleep now?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Bike Arlington Mardi Gras #bikedc #Errandonnee

Bike Arlington + Phoenix Bikes + Ye Olde Bike Shop + CABI = #Errandonnee Wild Mardi Gras

There were many other usual suspects there... but it is brutally hard to take pictures in the dark (while walking a dog and towing a trailer full of beads).  

Special Mardi Gras salute to Mark Blacknell who earned his beads today big time!!

Special Mardi Gras salute to the belles of the party: Tim and Zanna for working hard and throwing a great party!

Special Mardi Gras salute to Arlington County!  I mean really!!  So much fun!!!  And Mardi Gras salute to the Arlington police who did a great job in the middle of chaos!! 

Finally special thanks to my dog Annie who helped clean up all the candy that got dropped on the ground!

Monday, February 11, 2013

#Errandonnee Pt 2: Thus Saith the Profit

Two religious moments happened this morning.  First, Saint Dirt tweeted the following enlightenment:
Unenergetic and slow are how Monday morning rides are supposed to feel. It means you had a good weekend. ;)
On Mondays, coffee is a sacrament.  

Second, the pope quit cause he is tired.  I asked Priestest of Errandonneerian if that meant I too could quit.... She tweeted her edict:
ha ha! No! 
Remain therefore I in my gray padded cubicle watching the shadows of what must have once been sunshine float across the brick wall outside my window.

Errandonnee Pt. 2: Work. 14 miles.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

#Errandonnee Pt 1: On The Road

Washington D.C. is the sausage factory of bad ideas.  The Billy Jack's of the country come to Washington filled with noble ideas of how to get us to do things we detest because it is good for us.  Well here's one:  did you know that we have a national errand crisis?  Yes!  YES!  Apparently you Dorrito munching Superbowl fans have an errand deficiency.  Thus, an unnamed official in Washington has initiated a new program to force us to do our errands.  The first phase of the errand-crisis plan was to cut the power off at the Superdome for 39 minutes so that you would do the dishes (you didnt really think that Beyonce's hair dryer caused the power outage, did you?).  Now!  NOW!  Someone from a Friday morning meeting across the street from the White House is demanding that we commingle cycling with errands, and gave it the clever name Errandonnee. According to Fox News, it's Obama's Fault.

Cyclists all across the city were being forced to do errands.  A Washington bureaucrat spent most of Saturday afternoon, divining Errandonnee edicts.  In a logic that exists but nowhere outside the beltway, apparently having a beer can be categorized as a "personal health errand" if you drink to one's health. Really?

Cherrydale Hardware had a new inverted U bike rack installed in order to handle the anticipated Errondonnee traffic in the store.  On the first day of the new program, two errondonneers crowded store, attempting to find the cheapest bolt available (claiming it was to kludge a bicycle trailer hitch) in order to constitute "an errand."  Pictures where taken.  Stories were shared.  But the cyclists had to press on to adequately meet their "errand" quotas.

With no reprieve from the recently elected Coffee Party, I printed out my Errandonnee form, in triplicate, collated it, shredded it, reassembled it, and then fed it to my dog.  Perusing the fine print and in compliance with requirements,  I
  • Bought a bolt at an OTHER STORE
  • Bought a flag at a BIKE STORE which they had to steal off of a children's bike
  • Visited a book store which could have been a coffee store only the Starbuck groupees had bogarted all the tables or it could be a library but you have to pay for your books or it could be another OTHER STORE
  • I then bought a bottle from another OTHER STORE, the type of bottle that comes filled with your favorite beverage that you then chuck out the window (bottle or beverage)
  • And then visited a local coffee house where I had a mocha and read my book (which you are suppose to do at a LIBRARY) and had a sandwich (which I guess could have made this LUNCH).
I will spend the rest of the evening filing out my Errandonnee form (at least until I learn how to spell it), resolving whether it was COFFEE or a LUNCH, which must be filled with the IRS by April 14.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

It's the Bike Shorts Film Festival! (now accepting submissions)

Who: RIDE Solutions, The Shadowbox, Taubman Museum of Art
When: Friday May 3rd, submission deadline April 26th
Where: Taubman Museum of Art
For more info: Email Program Director Jeremy Holmes
Roanoke's Bike Shorts Film Festival is now accepting submissions for the 2013 Festival, to be held in at the Taubman Museum of Art as part of Bike Month 2013!

The Bike Shorts Film Festival celebrates short filmmaking of all kinds - documentary, drama, horror, drama, experimental, animation - so long as a bicycle is featured in the film. Prizes will be offred in three categories:
  • Juried prize: Selected by our panel of judges - $300
  • Best original score: Selected by our judges, awarded to the movie that best features an original score or local music, appropriately licensed - $100
  • Audience favorite: To be select at the end of the screening - $100
Past winners of the Bike Shorts Film Festival have had their films screened at the famous Filmed by Bike Festival in Portland, Oregon.

Submissions will be reviewed by The Shadowbox. Filmmakers are encouraged to keep their films short - around 10 minutes. Longer entries will be considered, but shorter entries have a better chance of being accepted. Accepted submissions will be screened at the Taubman Museum of Art and will be posted to the Roanoke Bike Shorts YouTube Channel.

To submit your film, download a copy of our submission guidelines and entry form, then deliver your final film, on DVD, to Bike Shorts Film Festival, PO Box 2569, Roanoke, VA 24010.

Questions about the festival, submission process, or other Bike Month activities should be directed to Jeremy Holmes, Program Director. Technical questions about file format or the film itself should be directed to Jason Garnett at The Shadowbox.

Monday, February 4, 2013

2013 Phoenix Bike Show

"Come and join the Phoenix Bikes team for yet another fun-packed bike show!

"At this unique show and fundraiser, Phoenix's youth mechanics will share with you how the youth bike shop and nonprofit organization has impacted their lives in meaningful and exciting ways.

"Several Phoenix youth will complete a custom bicycle build at the event; by night's end, we will auction off the sweet rides to the highest bidders.

"Throughout the evening, attendees will get to see some of the creative ways that bikes have been modified to accommodate family travel. You'll also get the chance to bid on silent auction items, participate in a raffle, and buy some cool Phoenix Bikes merchandise.

"We are honored to have WTOP reporter and bike blogger Kate Ryan as the night's emcee, and Arlington County Board Chairman Walter Tejada will highlight Phoenix's unique partnership with the community.

$25 in advance, $30 at door
Purchase here:

For more information, visit: