Sunday, May 30, 2010

Safeway blueberry rant

The Safeway on Columbia Road always seems to disappoint. This week I bought some blueberries, two packages for $3.99 each. It wasn't the plan. I was totally misled by the sign's placement above the blueberries.

It's one package for $3.99. Safeway is charging 66.5 cents per ounce of blueberries.

I felt totally ripped off after checking my receipt and even asked the clerk to double check the prices.

Harris Teeter sign
At Harris Teeter on Kalorama Road and Giant in Columbia Heights you can buy two pints of blueberries for 5.00 and 4.99 respectively, or about 15.5 cents per ounce.

I went to Safeway again today to double check the blueberry price. It hadn’t change, but the store had no blueberries.

The local Safeway staff is excellent, and I have many good things to say about them, but the corporate operations is out of touch with its competition and its residents.

At one time, for instance, the local Safeway sold generic store brand diet root beer for $2.50 a 12 pack. I bought it all the time and was happy with it. It was about half the price of AW root beer.

Safeway stopped selling the diet root beer for reasons unknown. It now only sells the sugar generic brand.

When Safeway does offer deals on AW root beer, the big discounts are applied if you buy three or four 12 packs. (Memo to Safeway: This is an urban grocery store. Many shoppers walk to it and selling food by the ton doesn’t work.)

Meanwhile, I tried out fro.zen.yo today in Columbia Heights, in the plaza across the Staples, Best Buy, Target.

It is self-serve with the large collection of frozen yogurt.

It charges .39 cents per ounce. I made myself an excellent sundae that included vanilla yogurt, cherries, sprinkles, whip cream, walnuts and chocolate syrup (I could have added a dozen different kinds of fruit and many other sweet things) for a total price of $3.50 for nine ounces.

Fro.zen.yo is an instant new favorite.

And, fro.zen.yo has blueberries as a topping at far less the cost than Safeway.

Monday, May 31 Breaking news update: I was just in Safeway and they had some blueberry pints in the case. There was no pricing anywhere.

Purse stolen? Found

I was walking home last night around 11 p.m. (after being forced to see Sex in the City where I was and-I-kid-you-not one of 10 men in a packed theater), and saw a black purse in front of 2630 Adams Mill Rd. It was on the ledge, in the grass, open and some of its contents spilled out.

I didn't touch it but flagged down a DC cop driving by and told him about it. He checked it out and called it in.

It had all the earmarks of a stolen purse that the thief discarded after removing any valuables before, in all probability, then fleeing in the nearby park.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Losing art at 14th and U Street

I don’t know anything about this art but I love it. It’s urban, mysteriously revolutionary and evocative of DC. It’s also disappearing.

This photo was taken at 14th and U near the bus stop closest to Columbia Heights. It was on the side of a building that now looks as if it is part of a construction site and behind a wire fence. Judging from the damage on this installation, it will probably disappear soon enough.

There’s a similar installation on P Street near 14th, on the exterior wall of the hardware store.

One of the things I especially like about this U Street work is how refreshingly different it from the colorfully vibrant, cartoonish and sometimes tiring installations that appear on buildings, particularly in Adams Morgan.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Read It, Enjoy It. Pass on It

The temporary Mount Pleasant Library is very attractive. Excellent color scheme, comfortable and adds some new vibrancy to the area. The book selection is small; just a fraction of the original collection. But I've used the DC public library’s online reserve system to great success.

You can find many stories on the library's shelves.

Tonight, I was checking out the library's new book section and to my right on a library shelf was the smiling face of Jim Graham, councilman for Ward One. Imagine. The picture is on some library promotion material. Graham, in case you have missed the red signs he had installed throughout Ward One, is running for re-election.

Reading informs which is exactly what Graham didn’t do at the debate in Adams Morgan last week for the Ward One candidates.

Graham is running against Jeff Smith, an ex-school board member and Bryan Weaver, who is a four term ANC commissioner. Weaver headed the local commission until he was replaced by a Graham staff member who is also a commissioner.

The debate eventually turned to the question of Ted Loza, Graham’s chief of staff who was indicted for bribery.

The case involves the taxi cab industry, which Graham was overseeing at the time as chair of an oversight committee. Graham has not been implicated in the bribery case.

But on the question of Loza and why there was even a plan to consolidate the taxi cab industry, Graham delivered a great non answer:

“I believe in the Bill in Rights. I believe in the Constitution. And like any of us, I think someone who is charged with a crime is entitled to his or her day in court and Mr. Loza has pled not guilty. He is going have his day in court. Until he is found guilty, he must be under our laws, presumed innocent, that’s what the law provides. And it’s one of those critical protections that we have in this nation which separates us from many, many countries across the world. So I want to be very sensitive to this. Let Ted Loza have his day in court. Let’s see what’ happens to Ted Loza once he presents his case for his innocence.”
I’m certain Graham would have mentioned the Magna Carta and the Star Trek Prime Directive if he had more time.

Graham went on about Loza and his shock, etc., but added nothing of consequence; meanwhile, I couldn't help wonder whether this constitutionally guaranteed day-in-court will arrive before or after the election.

Smith is an ex-school board member. He is showing potential for running an in-your-face campaign against Graham. He had pictures and charts at the debate and leveled charges against Graham about his attendance record. I would like to see Smith post what he has on his Web site because otherwise his story is going to end up in the fiction section.

The question for Weaver is straight from Simon Cowell of American Idol: Do you really want to win?

Weaver is thoughtful, deliberative and strikes me as being very deep on some issues. But to fight Graham is to go against a practiced machine and he needs to hit harder.

Weaver, for instance, can talk about how the ANC worked “to the smallest detail” with businesses on the 18th Street reconstruction planning, but Graham spoke about a $5 million “small business survival relief fund.” Weaver is indie press; Graham has Random House. But indie presses can still produce best sellers.

It promises to be a good election if Weaver and Smith can get equal time in the public library.