1.13.2008

positive force

caution... this rant started off as one thing and turned into another



these shots were taken in Columbia Heights on Sunday morning
the same trip that lisa and I took with the boys on their bikes to Sticky Fingers
not Sticky Fingers the rolling stones album with the actual zipper on the cover
Sticky Fingers the place where we were going to get some coffee and some cinnamon buns

these shots were taken of a new and different Columbia Heights
not the Columbia Heights pre-Sticky Fingers... pre-organic Cleaners...pre-Giant with parking garage
things were never this squeaky clean on this corner
well, things are not quite squeaky clean on this corner
but things were not quite as they are now

I can recall when things were not as they are now
I can recall when things were far from squeaky clean
I can recall the smell of tear gas and the sight of metro buses on fire on this corner
I can recall the looting in the People's Drugs on the corner which is no longer a People's Drugs

on this night the energy of the Mount Pleasant Riots spilled over into Columbia Heights
it was quite a night

me... I was maybe twenty-one or twenty-two at the time
not sure of the exact time
but I know where I was... I was eating some fabulous deep dish pizza at Julio's at U Street and New Hampshire over by 16th Street in Adams Morgan when I saw the news flash on the television over the bar
the bar which is now a Starbucks... of course it is a Starbucks
all the old historic Deco theaters are now CVC Pharmacys
and everything else is a Starbucks

totally off point here...
as I have traveled this far down this road I may as well continue
had meant to rant about seeing Mark Anderson of Positive Force when I was out front watching the kid's bicycles as Lisa and the boys picked up a kid's DC United jersey at Nash's Sporting Goods Store on 14th Street in Columbia Heights
did not so much want to rant about seeing Mark Anderson
but more that I wanted to post a few links to get people thinking of/learning about Mark Anderson and Positive Force
currently I am listening to a dj set/Podcast by/of Mark Anderson on Dissonance as I blog
the next song is by Madhouse which brings the tangent home
when I was maybe fourteen or fifteen my first trip to Mount Pleasant involved a birthday party for Norm... who was in Madhouse... Madhouse played at that birthday party which was very well my first time in the part of Washington DC known as Mount Pleasant

there I was out with a friend... the friend was female
I am not sure if this dinner would constitute as a date

either way... the action on the television was really so close that it did not make sense not to catch things up close and personal
I called for the check and cut the dinner short
got on my bike and headed up to 1211 Girard Street where I shared a house with a number of friends

there was a flurry of energy in the house
the news coverage was playing on the television as I walked in the door
a few of my housemates grabbed their bikes and we took to the streets

it was all very odd
we traveled just a few blocks to Mount Pleasant Main Street
like socialites traveling from DC to Manassas Virginia to watch the battles of the Civil War
things started slowly
but the gurgling of the volcano was in front of us

we traveled back and forth to the house
partially because things were just starting to brew
partially because our beers were back at our place

we drank beers and watch things start to escalate
only for a few of us to return to the 7-11 to witness the moment that took things from a mob shouting to chaos in the streets

the chronology of the evening is a blur
actually the chronology of several evenings is a blur

without the wear with all to bring a camera I traveled a triangle between Columbia Heights-Mount Pleasant-Adams Morgan then around again
taking it all in
just watching it all unfold



to me it was not clear how things started
in reality I was a stupid kid just running around surrounded by chaos
which is to say I was not so concerned about how things go started
all I wanted to do was to get as close to the action without getting hurt or arrested

there were flying rocks
rocks being thrown at police cars
rocks being thrown through store windows
the two Adams Morgan bicycle stores were quick to have plywood in the windows
not sure if things drifted as far south as City Bikes in Adams Morgan
pretty sure things did not make it as far as Metropolis Bikes just down the block from City Bikes

things got dangerous
police driving through the chaos nearly running over innocent people
it was possible that there were more spectators than criminals
the penalty did not seem to match the crime
I saw a police car get surrounded then flipped
another police car was lit on fire
just as the Metro Bus that delivered the riot squad was burned to its skeleton
the presence of the police did not calm things
it was the presence of the police that caused things to escalate

it was odd that the Churches Fried Chicken was burned down
not so odd was the looting of then Peoples Drugs the now gone CVS
what was interesting about the looking was that the small children were headed into the store with a list
grabbing items that they could not define... Midol... Tampax... etc...

there was a small child pushing a shopping cart filled with bricks
I asked him how much for a brick
to which he replied without skipping a beat
if you are gonna throw it at a cop car I will give it to ya for free
kids say the darnedest things

the chaos came from both sides
the police walked in formation
something more like a scene from Planet of the Apes than a evening on Columbia Road
tear gas was everywhere
even where the gas was not dense it burned
it burned your eyes
then when the tears when down your cheeks it burned your skin
and if it went in your throat
you choked

I am sure that at the most dense locations of the tear gas people dropped to their knees unable to see or breathe

a wet t-shirt of a bandanna as a mask
and word on the street was milk cooled the burning in the eyes

it was a weird thing to experience
a glance at the Wiki Page will certainly remind me if the violent lasted for more than one night
then in the nights that followed there was Martial Law called in that Zone
it was said that there was to be reason to travel those streets after a certain hour
stores closed and police were everywhere
the streets were vacant other than the police
I remember rolling through on my bike
but not to explore
just to pass through and go home

that was the Mount Pleasant Riots
too bad I did not take any pictures

the Wiki Page tells me the riots went for two days

POSITIVE FORCE
to let the tangent go full circle
it comes to mind that Mark Anderson had some animal activism
while Monica of Madhouse is still heavily involved in both music and animal rights

Sticky Fingers?
as I took photos on 14th Street I watched as an adult black man rolled down the sidewalk on a blue women's mountain bike
he rolled by slow and looked at the kid's bikes
his slow roll continued and he stopped at the window of the sporting goods store for some window shopping
for some window shopping or for a glance back at the bikes to see how well they were being watched
Sticky Fingers?

7 comments:

Icon O. Classt said...

"If you are gonna throw it at a cop car I will give it to ya for free."

Poetry.

So, did you get a free brick?

gwadzilla said...

no free brick for me

my attendance was for observation
not for participation

Rocky6 said...

I was living in Adams Morgan at the time. Grabbed an old press credential from my previous life and hit the streets with cameras. Excellent visuals. Declined the brick offers.

As I recall, the real violence began after a police shooting, yes? A routine police questioning blew out of control when officers could not communicate with a Spanish-speaking detainee. Later it was reported that MPD had no Spanish-speakers working in the heavily Latino district. Shameful indeed, but corrected today??

gwadzilla said...

it appears that there are a number of Latino police officers in Mount Pleasant and Adams Morgan
I can not verify if they are bi-lingual

email me a few pictures and I will post them up

the rioting was said to be a form of protest

I have never seen such actions as anything more than aggression and greed
there is no protest in the action of stealing

Rocky6 said...

I'll try to locate images. All film-based, of course...

Hard to disagree with the assessment of "aggression and greed," and yet sometimes it seems such behavior is effective at forcing the establishment to re-evaluate the status quo.

The trick is to differentiate the violence of anti-World Bank protesters of today from the anti-Vietnam war protesters of the late 60s and early 70s.

The former are hard for me to comprehend while the latter seem to have been nobly motivated.

Probably just my age. Never trust anyone over 30, right?

Icon O. Classt said...

"there is no protest in the action of stealing"

Huh?...I take it you've never hear of this guy. ;)

Meredith said...

Sticky finger? You went to sticky fingers for some cinnamon buns? How'd you like em? You know that they are VEGAN!!!