City Desk

Chatter: Arts and Labor

What you said about what we said last week

With an annual festival, a handful of galleries, and now a new arts center and black-box theater, Anacostia’s arts infrastructure is growing quickly. But will audiences from across the city come to Ward 8? And what will the arts do for Anacostia? We pondered these questions in last week’s cover package, “How to Build an Arts District,” with several of the articles focusing on ARCH Development Corporation, the nonprofit that is responsible for much of the arts-related growth in the neighborhood.

Some commenters wished we’d addressed the neighborhood’s larger battery of problems in our cover package. “Anacostia is a great place with many, many challenges,” wrote Cap City Records Panhandler. “I am not sure that the couple thousand words you devoted to the neighborhood clearly depict the beauty or the horror.” Michael joined the chorus: “I liked your introductory page, but by the end of it all, it just seemed like the arts are the only way to turn the neighborhood around, no questions asked.”

A blog post from ARCH’s director of marketing and business development, Nikki Peele, addressed the latter point. “Do I think that the arts are the ONLY path to bring economic development and revitalization to Anacostia? No,” she wrote, later adding, “This is the path that ARCH chose to take for its organization but it doesn’t mean that is the ONLY path. So while I know that most of my fellow Ward 8 neighbors understand and appreciate ARCH’s mission and our projects, I also realize that there are some folks who will undoubtedly be grumbling under their breath (or posting comments under a pseudonym) about how ‘arts don’t address the real issues.’ They will probably question how arts and culture affect the lives of returned citizens and combat issues such as literacy/crime/affordable housing/etc. Well, the fact of the matter is that there are a lot of real issues effecting Ward 8 and it will take a lot of real strategies (and people) to solve them.”

Gin Peaks

Are cocktail prices too damn high? That was the question posed by last week’s Young & Hungry column, and the evidence on offer was shocking enough to merit a ruling from the Greek god of wine and merry-making. “Truly to pay near the price of a full bottle of booze for one drink is absurd,” commented dionysus. “If people are willing to pay it, bars will continue to charge it. The gullible will always be easily parted from their money.”

Alas, we mortals! But reader Jane drew some careful distinctions: “For a normal restaurant cocktail I tap out at $14, but I’ll pay up to $18 if I trust the bartender. I’ll pay more for premium ingredients but a lot of it is inflation.”

Still, CookInDineOut argued, not every ingredient is worth the markup. “The yamamomo berry, for example, surely makes that drink unique, but would it be a bad cocktail if it had a (presumably way more affordable) raspberry in it instead? Probably not. There’s a certain cachet in chasing the unique, which is often more expensive, over the pedestrian but tasty.”

The Diner Things

For an item in last week’s Feed section, Alison Sher posted up in Columbia Heights’ The Coupe during the graveyard shift, where she witnessed low-grade drunken antics and at least one argument about Alicia Keys. Reader anons toasted the late-night expedition with a glass of haterade: “So that’s who is keeping that place open, all the drunk people from 2 to 4 a.m. who don’t notice the awful twice-priced cold food and the fact that it took them an hour to get it from the spotty service.”

Woof. But moments of grace are still possible at The Coupe, as witnessed in this tale emailed in by Washington Post music critic Chris Richards: “I was just at The Coupe, eating eggs, reading Washington City Paper, as one is wont to do on Thursday nights. I came to the piece you guys had about late nights at The Coupe and asked my waiter what the employees thought of it. I guess they hadn’t seen it yet and the entire kitchen shut down for a minute while everyone read it. When I left, the wait staff were raiding the WCP box outside. Everyone was super stoked.”

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