Friday, December 21, 2018

Still Life with Robin: The CP Listies, Part 2 – The Nominations Are In!

Red Fox, Photo by Alan D. Wilson
(Creative Commons)
by Peggy Robin

Last week we asked for your nominations for “The Best of the CP Listserv 2018,” or “The Listies,” as we’ve dubbed them. And now the nominations are in! Not a great quantity, but to quote Spencer Tracy in that screwball classic, “Pat and Mike”: “What’s there is cherce!” The number has been increased considerably by our own favorites, which, with the significant advantage of foresight (that is, knowing from day one of 2018 that we’d be announcing the candidates for best posts at the end of the year), we’ve been diligently collecting over the past twelve months.

We were even blessed by a few mid-December posts that made the cut.

And so without further introduction, here are the nominees in the following five categories: Best Query; Most Helpful (or Most Creative) Advice; Best Sale or Giveaway; Best Long-Running Discussion Thread; and Post of the Year.

And the nominees are:

1. ISO Toto (Dog Actor). On January 25 Sarah posted a message seeking talented dogs to audition for the role of Toto in “The Wiz,” at Ford’s Theatre. And the best part of the post: “This role will be cast shape-blind.” We can only wonder if a Great Dane could take the part traditionally assigned to a toy-sized terrier. That would be so awesome. Only wish we knew if a Cleveland Park canine won the audition!

2. ISO Metal Detector. On November 10, Gail asked if anyone could lend her a metal detector to aid in the search for her husband’s wedding ring, lost while he was cleaning up after the dog. This intriguing premise was later capped off by the best news possible: detector supplied, ring found, happy ending!

3. Names for the new hockey team in Seattle? On December 5 Laine asked for suggestions for names for the new hockey team being organized in Seattle. You would think such a request would stimulate some creative thinking and a rash of clever team monikers posted on-list -- but alas there was just one that was sent reply-all; still, it was a good one: The Seattle Nerds! We can only hope that a passel of private replies included some great contenders.

4. ISO Old Basketball for `Silly` Art Piece. On December 16, Henry was looking for a few things for an unusual purpose – but we’ll let him describe it in his own words: ”The orange basketball will represent the one who shall not be named. As for his Cabinet, our dog has already brought home the carcasses of two deflated soccer balls. The two roundish ball parts have been placed on 3’ tall pedestals in our front yard. But the remaining pedestal is empty. Can the CP listserve save the day?” 

And the nominees are:

1. Queue for Single Performance Tickets to Hamilton. On February 28, Chuck L. kicked off a long thread on how to snag tickets to the mega-hit Hamilton, by writing of his continuously improving position in the online queue. He writes: “10:00 this morning when the queue was set, I was number 50,657. No, that’s not a typo. They are kind enough to show you a countdown so you can see how you’re progressing in line. Initially it seemed to be running at about 20 sales per minute. At 11:00 my number in line was 47,812….” The message was both a practical lesson in how to navigate the experience, and an amusing little slice of Washington, DC life, told in real time.

2. Re: ISO Tips for trip to London. (Various posts between June 29 – July 2.) This isn’t a single-message nominee but a 22-message thread. Nearly two dozen posters weighed in, offering tips as specific as instructions to get from Heathrow to Paddington, to recommendations for slightly less crowded but fascinating places to visit (e.g., Freud’s house, Churchill’s wartime bunker) and worthwhile day trips (Salisbury Cathedral). Well done, you well-traveled CP Listers!

3. Mail Complaints and Compliments. On January 20 Mark R. reported on the Cleveland Park Citizens Association’s forum on mail problems in the neighborhood. This post was just loaded with solid, useful stuff – names, job titles, and contact information for the postal officials who should receive the complaints. Plus names and contact information for the people at the CPCA (with Mark himself stepping up to the plate) and elected officials who will continue to track and follow up on neighbors’ complaints. Real action for a real problem. Can’t ask more than that!

4. Tips on DC Driver License Renewal - Real ID. On November 15, it’s Chuck to the rescue again….this time on the subject of how to apply for a “Real ID” drivers license at the DC DMV, and actually walk away with it after the first try. Best lines in this necessarily long and detailed post: “Read the requirements for a Real ID 5 or 10 times. No fewer times. The clerk at the DMV said that more than half of those who show up at the DMV don’t have all the documents they need.”

And the nominees are:

1. Free George Forman. OK, I must confess that there’s a small but crucial difference between the version of this post as it arrived at the pending messages folder, and the version that was posted on the listserv on July 5. The subject line, when I first saw the pending message, did not read at all like a giveaway, but like a call for activists to rally around someone who’s been jailed for a crime he did not commit. On reading the actual message, I discovered it was quite a bit more mundane: Someone was giving away a George Foreman grill. So, just to make it clear what was being offered to some lucky list member, I added the word “grill” to the subject line before putting it through. (Forgot to correct the spelling, though – Grillmaster Foreman spells his name with an “e”!) Now I wish I’d kept it “as is” – because it’s that original, more memorable imperative sentence that merits inclusion as one of the CP Listies of 2018.

2. Free 20th Century Stuff. Randy’s offer of July 17 was briefly stated but still full of charm and romance: “Tired of the 21st Century? Email and selfies! Type a love letter, send an analog photo of a sunset! I am passing on a portable typewriter (Smith Corona), and cameras and lenses (Konica and Minolta).” With an offer like that, not surprising to hear how quickly the items were snapped up!

3. Antique Sawmill Blade For Sale. This was sent in by Vicki on May 26. She says it would make a creative piece of “yard art.” If it can now be found in a Cleveland Park yard as part of a sculptural composition, gotta hope there’s some sort of protective shield around that blade!

4. FF: 200oz of frozen breastmilk. This one certainly can be described as the most generous (not to mention nutritious!) free offer of the year. Who knew that breastmilk went for $6/ounce! That makes this a giveaway with a market value of $1200. And without doubt it’s the one involving the most intimate, personal action on the part of the giver. It came in just last week, an early Christmas present for someone’s baby – we hope!

And the nominees are:

1. Dog waste incident. What are dog walkers supposed to do with a bag of poochie-poop? Can they toss it in someone else’s supercan? And if you catch someone in the middle of throwing a bag of poop onto your property, can you toss it right back at him? This real-life scenario churned up more reaction than any previous year’s consideration of the oft-discussed dog-do dilemma  – 22 messages over 3 days (March 1, 2, and 3). Not all of the posters had a “dog in this fight.” As one poster wrote: “Although I will in no way endorse the catapoolt, thanks for the entertainment!”

2. The Connecticut Avenue Service Lane. We had just one person nominate this thread. She said she likes the fact that each time it comes up, it gives the people who love the service lane a chance to restate how much it helps them visit shops, helps the merchants, helps the elderly. I have to add, the repetition of these arguments (and to be fair, the repetition of the arguments on the other side) is exactly what many list members hate about this topic. And every time it comes up, we get a few direct-to-the-moderator complaints along the lines of “This again?!” and “Enough!?” But it was nominated, so we’re presenting it here.

3. Re: ISO of advice in convincing a reluctant voter to vote in DC election. Just before the election, on November 4 and 5, Natasha asked for advice on this topic, and received 9 answers, all well-written, some compelling, and a few even impassioned. Margery’s November 4 response was a stirring battle cry: “People died for the right to vote. Do not complain about anything to do with the city unless you vote. Not voting is in-American. Cowards don’t vote!”

4. Missing Mail, Anyone? Under that subject line the listserv hosted a thread of 15 messages from October 2nd – 6th. And under different subject lines (including “Mail Complaints,” “Missing Package,” and “The Post Office Ran Over My Package with a Truck,” this topic was addressed on the listserv in TEN separate discussion threads – the first one at the start of the year on January 23 and the most recent go-round on December 13. We’ll let the opening lines of Kathy’s December 9 post serve as a sample for the entire woeful bunch: “It's the holiday season and time for the usual ‘we attempted delivery’ shtick: I got an email that USPS tried and failed to deliver a package to me this evening (Sunday) but that ‘a notice was left because no secure delivery location was available.’ Not very credible when I live in a building that has a front desk that's staffed 24/7. (And the delivery is just an inexpensive parcel, not requiring signature or special handling.) No notice, either. A notice would've required the carrier to, y'know, set foot inside the building…..”

5. ALERT: Red Fox Seen in Cleveland Park - 13 messages from December 18 to 20. Wily, noisy, nocturnal…and beloved! Many list members have spotted them – and hope to keep on doing so as long as they live in the neighborhood. Here’s Diana’s post of December 19: “When I first moved to Cleveland Park (I live abutting Melvin Hazen woods), I heard these horrible, not too loud, screams at night. I thought at first that it may be a hurt deer or another animal caught by something. A neighbor told me that, instead, it is the cry of a female fox in heat. Wonderful now.”

And now for the all-important POST OF THE YEAR 2018:

1. Post Office ran over my package with a truck. What made Bronwyn’s October 5 post so compelling was the attached photo of a mailing tube with USPS truck tire tracks all over it. But given the state of Yahoogroups dysfunction, the attachment did not come through at the time of posting. Now, with this nomination, we have righted that wrong. The photo, worth the proverbial thousand words, can now be found at this link: 

2. Summoned by a Snow in Spring. Tim, posting on March 21 after the unusually late March snowstorm, wrote of the beauty of a  snowy walk through Rock Creek Park. Some of the lovelier lines: “Birds, a dove, a tree sparrow, a bright red cardinal, flew about, apparently confused by the disappearance of their habitat. But the slate grey and white juncos, the birds of winter, hopped about confidently in the snow….. The creek was bubbly and filled to the brim, rushing to its destination in the river and the bay…. But the wet brown/black branches of the oaks and the beaches, lined with zebra stripes of thick wet snow, were company enough. Even the green leaves of climbing ivy had dollops of snow clinging to them…..”

3. Sheep at 36th and Ordway. This is a two-person effort, begun on October 31, by Sue, who knew there had once been sheep living at 36th and Ordway, but wondered if anyone had a photo. The follow-up came from Sabrina, who supplied an old clipping from the Washington Post (January 23, 1953), which included a grainy photo of the elderly shepherd alongside two of his flock. Under the headline, “Mary Louise returned home after capture by police,” we’re told the story of a ewe on the lam (that’s Mary Louise), until, at last, according to the reporter: “The squad car shepherds lassoed her near the National Cathedral.” To see the original clipping, best to visit it via the Cleveland Park Historical Society’s Facebook post:  [The clipping originally appeared on CP Listserv as an attachment in .PDF format, but now when you go back to it and click on it, you get an error message. Things are not what they should be in Land of YahooGroups.]

4. Springland Farm History Note: Marcia Van Ness. Here’s another post from Chuck, making this third(!) appearance in the nominations for this year’s listies. It was hard to choose which was the best among his “Springland Farm History Notes” series -- each one telling tales of some of the more colorful people behind familiar street names, like Van Ness, Upton, Tilden, and Reno. But we’re going with the Marcia Van Ness story (posted on September 11). It had a bit of everything: George and Martha Washington, the purchase of the National Mall, the Lincoln Assassination, a cholera epidemic, a haunted house, and six headless white horses on a ghostly gallop. It even had the Hamilton-Burr duel thrown in. How long till we get “Van Ness – The Musical!”?

5. How Everything Has Changed. Anytime someone asks what was in “X” storefront before it became “Y”?, we can count on Eleanor supply the answer -- and to keep going back in time covering the changes of ownership and purposes, fifty years, sixty years, sometimes right back to the ancient, misty beginnings of Cleveland Park. Among her many such posts this year, we choose her August 21 message, which covered things as they used to be, from what was once a grocery store at 3412 Connecticut Ave (now vacant but for many years the site of Ireland’s Four Provinces) up to the corner of Connecticut and Porter (now the Immediate and Primary Care Clinic). Along the way she covers the Young Playways Toy Store and its owner, Mr. G, who “would not sell guns or Barbie dolls”, the uniform store with mannikins “wearing waitress outfits right out of diners on Route 66,” and the coin dealer next to the Uptown, who “would probably still be there but he had the misfortune of fencing stolen goods including things that had been stolen from CP homes only hours before. The victims of the burglaries found their stuff right down the street and the coin dealer was led away in handcuffs.” At the end of the message, Eleanor says, “I’m going to stop now, who wants to read through all this? Hardly anyone.” But in point of fact, her memories of bygone days were the most nominated posts of the CP Listies.

Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local, normally on Saturdays, but posted this week on Friday to get ahead of the pre-Christmas weekend rush. 

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