In 1994, Vice President Al Gore penned the introduction to an anniversary edition of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, a groundbreaking environmental book that exposed the dangers of pesticides and other artificial weed killers. A few locals trotting past Gore’s home on Massachusetts Avenue on Earth Day last week noticed the Naval Observatory lawn decorated with little yellow signs. They warned passers-by to keep off due to a recent chemical pesticide application.

Star Lite “They said the governor of D.C. is here, but I just want to see the guy from Titanic. I never get to see anyone important. Gum, anyone?”—woman amid the scrum of tourists straining to get a look at White House Correspondents’ Dinner glitterati at the Washington Hilton Saturday evening.

Looking Back “We’re talking good guy/bad guy here,” barks Metropolitan Police Department Officer Theodore Brannum to the predominantly gray-haired crowd assembled in the basement of Providence Baptist Church. “[W]ith the bad guy going out looking for prey. And believe me, you are the prey.” About 40 people have shown up at Barney Circle’s monthly community policing meeting to hear Brannum deliver his life-on-the-mean-streets lecture. After running through the laundry list of safety tips, Brannum pops in a video. To a lively techno/disco beat, a government-issue scumbucket pistol-whips an unsuspecting citizen and then a talking head/policeperson—courtesy of that epicenter of street crime, Saline, Mich.—informs viewers of some common-sense ways to avoid getting your skull cracked. Armed with those tips, the video’s protagonist—a small but spry granny—cruises the dark streets avoiding such obstacles as the dark-alley guy, the black-jacketed fat man on her tail, and the suspicious smoker lingering near the ATM. But D.C. Officer Brannum can’t hold his fire when granny whirls into a Ninja stance and stares the fat-man stalker down with her bad look. “Don’t do that. No, no,” he cautions the crowd. “Not in D.C. Here he’ll take it as a challenge….[Here] you give them a quick eye. You just let them know that you know they’re there.”

Ticket Master On Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, many car owners in Mount Pleasant received a pink surprise

tucked underneath their windshield wipers. The offense? An almost communitywide failure to turn car wheels in toward the curb. The transgression is a big deal in hilly terrains like San Francisco’s, but hardly a public safety hazard on the moderate inclines of Mount Pleasant. When Mount Pleasant resident Staci Skall inquired about stepped-up enforcement of the little-known law, Metropolitan Police Department Officer E. Martinez reportedly blurted back, “It’s your problem if you are ignorant of the laws.” Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Polly Donaldson stormed home Wednesday afternoon after hearing about the mass ticketing and placed an angry call on behalf of herself and her constituents to Sgt. Robert Parker of the 4th District. “At first he said it was a response to car thefts,” Donaldson reports. “But then he said it was the result of an overzealous person and that I should collect them all and he would take care of them.” If you were one of the scofflaws who was nabbed for failure to properly align your wheels when parking, you can drop your ticket off at the 4th District and they will, allegedly, make it go away.

Department of Public Wait It’s a breezy afternoon on the 1700 block of T Street NW around 3 p.m. last Friday. Two Department of Public Works (DPW) tow trucks are parked with their engines running but headed nowhere. They’re still in place four-and-a-half hours later, now accompanied by a Metropolitan Police (MPD) unit. “We’re not towing any cars. That’s all you need to know,” says tow truck driver Robert Stephenson when asked about the activity, or lack thereof. Back at DPW, Stephenson’s supervisor, Vincent Dorsey, fesses up: A tow truck has cracked the tail light on another vehicle, and the employees have been waiting patiently for a cop to fill out a report. “Even the government has to wait for the police,” chuckles MPD officer J.C. Reid as he fills out the report.

Reporting by Laura Lang, Chris Peterson, Amanda Ripley, Elissa Silverman, and Jake Tapper.

Please send your City Desk tips to Elissa Silverman at or call 332-2100 and ask for my voice mail.