A regular summary of irregular news and notes from neighborhood blogs and email lists around the District.

No Attention Without Good Graphic Design: Yesterday, councilmembers Phil Mendolson and Michael A. Brown introduced a well-intentioned bill called “the District of Columbia Flag Amendment Act of 2011—which would allow the city to fly, on Flag Day, an alternate version of the District’s flag with the words ‘No Taxation Without Representation’ emblazoned on it,” DCist reports. Unfortunately—if the mock-up in the DCist post is any indication—the symbolic gesture might just be remembered for its poor design: The D.C. flag simply receives a layer of text trumpeting “No Taxation Without Representation.” It’s not much of a visual argument. Fortunately, Left for LeDroit, in a step ahead of the councilmembers,  has already worked up some pro-statehood graphics that are much more fun-looking.

Graffiti With Personality: Park View D.C. and New Columbia Heights have recently observed some cool street art in their neighborhoods, but Bloomingdale is struggling with tagging that’s a far cry from art. The neighborhood blog posted a screed from a resident calling for neighbors to collectively address the troubles with graffiti and tagging, which are apparently ramping up. One commenter writes, “I personally enjoy the tagging. It gives the neighborhood personality,” but he’s quickly shot down. “So why not tag the kid and give him personality?” asks one, while a few others remark on inappropriate tags on Howard University dorms and the Flagler Market. Still another adds, “Have you seen what they’ve done to the Cleaners on Seaton and 1st?? This means war, dude.”

Chain Stabilization: New Columbia Heights deconstructs the perception of chains in the neighborhood. Complete with a map identifying local and national chains, the blog says, “As you can see, the red (national chains) and green (local chains, i.e. Z-Burger) are confined to DCUSA and the surrounding area. The vast majority of the new places are along 11th Street and farther north of 14th, and they’re all local, except from the CVS at Georgia and New Hampshire. So maybe it’s ok that DCUSA is a giant chain mecca — as long as the remainder of the neighborhood stays local, a la Mt. Pleasant Street. I’d be happy with that.” A commenter writes thoughtfully, “Spot on post. It’s also worth asking why exactly it is that chains can “afford” the rent but smaller businesses cannot- either a business is attracting enough customers to cover its rent and other costs, or it isn’t. The most likely answer is that DCUSA shoppers tend to want to shop at the big chains, so those places are going to do better. Now, if I felt like those big chains were squeezing out local businesses in my neighborhood, I’d be the first in line to complain. But it seems more like exactly the opposite is happening- DCUSA has done a lot in terms of making people with money to spend think of Columbia Heights less as the ghetto and more as a place they might want to live or hang out in. A thriving DCUSA helps bolster this image and is good for local independent businsesses and the people (like most of us I’m sure) who would patronize such places.”

Sonically Speaking: On the MPD 1-D email list, which encompasses Capitol Hill, there is much speculation on the “source of loud pounding some mornings that rattles windows on the Hill.” Several list members offer suggestions: “I heard it this morning from 7 am on. It sounds to me like trucks driving over a steel plate in the road”; “It sounded like a large pile-driver, which started at approximately 0635 hours. Unsure of the exact origin”; “It can be heard in SW too. It also happened about a week or so ago, again starting around 6:45-7 AM. It sounds like construction sounds, similar to the pile driving that happened every morning when the Waterfront Station buildings were under construction. It just starts far too early for me!” The most definitive conclusion? “I believe its from the army base as this happened a week or two ago and it was from Fort Meyer in Virginia according to the posting on our neighborhood blog.” Regardless, no confirmation has been made.

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