Thursday, August 29, 2013

River Easters Pack Gentrification Forum In Minnesota-Benning

East-of-River locals, old and new, crammed into a forum on urban renewal, hosted by R.E.E.L. (River East Emerging Leaders) at Department of Employment Services Headquarters, on Tuesday night.

In another 'Don't be afraid of gentrification' forum, civic officials and River East newcomers (some, REEL members) butted heads with long-standing Southeast residents. Engaged and enraged, locals demanded information about upcoming development, east of Big Annie, ..and refused to be condescended to. In the face of overwhelming skepticism, questioning their loyalty to old-time residents, REEL took the progressive route, inviting all River Easters to join the organization and become a part of seeking solutions to decades-old OLD problems, ..instead of blocking progress.

"[REEL and DC officials] not being real with us," a middle-aged resident confided in me, last Tuesday. "They talking about how all this development's supposed to improve everything, down the road--so, they already got a plan, ..right? If you asking somebody how they feel about something you already decided, you're not being for real."

A lot of constructive anger in that room. Thankfully, less condescension than I anticipated.


Mel Dyer

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Urban Cool And Live Music At Cafe In Nearby Mount Rainier

[Urban Eats Café; photo from PBS]
Surprised and delighted to find live music and cafe life, just past the D.C. state line and sitting next to an art gallery, in Mount Rainier, Maryland. Seriously. I am not imagining this.

When I recently learned that the Urban Eats Arts and Music Cafe has just celebrated two years in business, at 3311 Rhode Island Avenue (Mount Rainier, MD), ..I was thrilled! As I'm always looking for places like this, away from the bustle of Downtown Washington and Capitol Hill, and rarely finding them, ..clearly, I have been missing out.

There's a cafe area, with charming, little tables for two or three, and a couple of larger, roadhouse tables for small meetings, over coffee. There's the prerequisite, cozy, little lounge area - a coffeehouse standard - with cushy sofas and loveseats, ..where a good buddy of mine reads his comics, while locals soak up the FREE WI-FI on their laptops. The lounge area gives you a front-row seat, when there's live entertainment, ..and, other times, a great place to meet your next, new best friend! It's a mix of small town diner and East Village coffeehouse that makes you feel instantly at-home, no matter your mood.

When I told Urban Eats owner, Annette Martin, a Southwesterner from Arizona, how much I loved the Bohemian atmosphere, she totally got it...another satisfied customer.

Open mike 'nites' are on Wednesday, and there's a special 'Ladies Open Mike', every third Thursday of the month. There is art, created by local artists, on the walls. I have blown by on a Wednesday night, and I can tell you that it's quite a scene! Live music from the cafe floats out onto the quiet streets of Mount Rainier. Older couples enjoying each other, over drinks and quiet conversation, with younger couples and single ladies drifting in and out, onto the sidewalk.

Love that I can always find a nearby parking space, too. Close enough to stumble out of my car, right onto a sofa, inside! You will love that, ..and don't count on finding that, in town.

You will love the coffee, and the New Haven pizza is $8.95 ..and spectacular.

There just is NO place, like Urban Eats Arts and Music Cafe, presently in these hills. I think they might be coming, ..with the Department of Homeland Security opening in Congress Heights, Skyland Town Centre coming to the western edge of Hillcrest and more development to the northeast, in Minnesota-Benning, ..and farther out, at Capital Gateway. Being sandwiched between all of this urban renewal, I think the Southeast Hills will be getting a few 'towny' pleasures, sometime soon.

Until that happens, ..get out here.

Mel Dyer

Thursday, April 11, 2013

SH's Best Home, This Month: Mondo Condo Near Skyland Town Center

Looking for roomy, sensibly priced apartments or condos in the picturesque, lushly forested Southeast Hills neighborhood of Hillcrest ..AND within walking distance of upcoming Skyland Town Center? Have a peek at this YouTube video, from Washington, D.C. Apartments...

And see for yourself.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

SH's Best Home, This Month: Old Southern Elegance In Fairfax Village

The house at 3607 Suitland Road is another GEM in the well respected, sought-after, safe, middleclass neighborhood everyone, west of the Anacostia, is talking about - Hillcrest, of course!

On first glance, this house's pillared veranda recalls the stately, Georgian mansions of the Old South, ..and elegantly enough to impress. It's a great home for a young, urban professional in a quiet, tree-lined Southeast Hills neighborhood that looks and feels alot like Van Ness or Friendship Heights, with the cafes and night life of Capitol Hill, barely seven or eight minutes away! Perhaps, you should ask D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, if the Safeway and the post office are close enough to comfortably walk to, ..since he's in the neighborhood.

"The Mayor's just around the corner from me," sounds none too shabby, at all. I do it all the time.

On that note, the house's homage to Southern colonial style leaves its Victorian-look glass door oddly matched. A fully wooden one, painted ONE color, would be in better taste.

While the property is listed in Fairfax Village, it should be understood that Fairfax Village is, itself, actuallyin Hillcrest, ..and Hillcrest is about to be very close to Walmart and a very nice town center. The time to buy in great Southeast Hills neighborhoods, like Hillcrest, Fairfax Village or nearby Penn Branch (where I grew up) is right now!

See 3607 Suitland Road for yourself, here, on

Mel Dyer

Friday, February 1, 2013

SH's Best Home, This Month: A Cape Cod On The Woods

You want the skinny on this property from someone living, right here, in Hillcrest? Well, here it is...

Your friends will be surprised how much this woodsy, quiet, safe, middleclass neighborhood - great for young couples with children OR happily retired - looks and feels like Rock Creek Park or Chevy Chase. This house is located in the BEST the Southeast Hills have to offer, with bars and cafe life on Capitol Hill barely five minutes away! Safeway, post office and retail are close enough to walk to, in a neighborhood safe and friendly enough to enjoy the stroll! Maybe, you'll jog past a U.S. Congressman - we've actually got one around here, somewhere.

I can almost see Skyland Town Center from here. Almost. Upon completion, it will be a short walk from 2109 Thirty-first Place's doorstep, ..and ground-breaking starts, Fall 2013! Yes, ..I said town center.

Looks like a SMART investment in a great neighborhood your friends will envy. Now, go see for yourself!

2109 31ST Pl SOUTHEAST, WASHINGTON, DC 20020 | MLS# DC7967077 | Redfin

Mel Dyer

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Spare The Sharks And The Crocodiles...Spoil The Child!


I just saw, for the second time, the most facinating and INSPIRATIONAL film on LINK TV, ..and it is ALAMAR, by Mexican filmmaker, Pedro González-Rubio!

In the film, we a fisherman raising his son, on and beside the ocean. We see a father, who involves his child in the immediately relevant work and economy of their family, his son a TRUE sense of self-esteem, ways an endless string of meaningless, irrelevant, organized activities (Ancient Tibetan basket-weaving, hip-hop yoga, Israelli bagel-painting, etc) NEVER could.  We see a father, who plays in the natural world with his son ..and a child, who never stops being excited about learning. We see a child, who knows his place..and, trusting that it is a cherished, loving and protected place, has no need to constantly and wastefully question and challenge authority, ..growing up without the subsequent uncertainty, insecurity and life-crippling anxiety that so many of our American kids are experiencing (with the highest suicide rates and violent behavior, than ever before).

Suicide, according to Centers for Disease Control, is the THIRD leading cause of death, among young Americans, ages ten to twenty-four years old. That is crazy ..and it is unconscionable.

With all the freedom, leisure and privilege we see so many American parents giving their children - encouragement to think of them as a best friend (as much as parent), permission to call them by first name, to question their every decision, to challenge the authority of teachers and school administrators, unsupervised time at the mall with friends, enrollment in a string of fun, organized activities, expensive clothes and toys...

Why, why WHY are our children SO unhappy?!

In Alamar, we see a devoted father, who, through work and play, gives his son's life order and the value of commitment, ..and a child, who is genuinely HAPPY with his simple, meaningful life. He gives his son's life something sorely missing in the lives of today's young Americans, ..and that's simplicity. It is a simple, beautiful life, as surrounded by water, as by LOVE.

And good, hard work. Not activity. Work.

Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio's ALAMAR is a great film for fathers and uncles to see, as much as for mothers to understand what makes willful, curious boys into good, strong men. Blending real-life people and places with improvised situations, it is a docudrama and can't be called a blueprint for raising perfect children, ..but, it might point us to something we seem to have lost, here in the West (particularly, in America).  Alamar is a movie that might show us how we can make more relevant, life-long contributions to our children's lives that I believe will benefit our societies.

See Alamar, here...

Mel Dyer

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Thank you so much for all of the encouraging e-mail and just for looking us over, in 2012! Coming next week, ..2013 begins with more Bullethedd, Iron Munkee, Twinkly Blanket (above) and BRAND-NEW, quirkier-than-ever Steak Island vignettes.

See the best of 2012, by visiting the 'Archives' at

Mel Dyer