City Desk

Chatter: Awkward Segway

What you said about what we said last week

"Rolling Papers," last week’s cover story by Jenny Rogers, introduced readers to the world of sightseeing wonks, tourism regulators, and Segway libertarians. The comments on our website were quickly visited by a fourth group: Segway NIMBYs. “I’ve been living in downtown since 2003 and think the Segway tours are the only thing more annoying than the city’s entitled bicyclist culture,” wrote EP Sato. “At least these tours, for the most part, stay off most of the sidewalks now. They used to ride right up narrow sidewalks and force people onto the streets. Nowadays I only see them do the sidewalks on Pennsylvania Avenue. But I still cringe whenever I see them. People ARE aware of how dorky they look riding Segways right?”

Reader HC challenged the assertion of Segs in the City’s Bill Main that licensing guides would strain the company’s finances. “The math simply doesn’t add up here. According to their website, a two-hour segway tour runs $70 to $80. Fine. Let’s say the company takes out 10 people on a tour (seems fair given what I’ve seen on the Mall this summer). That’s $700 to $800 gross revenue from a single tour...So how exactly is the licence fee going to wreck him financially?”

Rental Floss

For last week’s Housing Complex column, Aaron Wiener visited Parkway Overlook, a cluster of vacant apartment buildings near Anacostia that the city has tried to redevelop for six years—or, as John Muller termed them in a response at the Huffington Post, “The Mothership of Southeast’s Abandominiums.”

Some disagreed with the argument that Parkway Overlook should be at least partially dedicated to affordable housing. “Southeast does not need more ‘affordable’ housing,” wrote GoldCoastKid. “Build something that the new Homeland Security staff are going to want to live in.” The blog Congress Heights on the Rise responded with a post opposing the idea of concentrating affordable housing in D.C.’s poorest wards; the pseudonymous author, The Advoc8te, argued instead for more economic diversity in Ward 8.

In a follow-up, Wiener agreed that D.C. ought to have more mixed-income development—and noted that the city already “is moving away from a model of concentrated poverty toward one of economic integration.” As for Parkway Overlook, he wrote that it’s unlikely to be 100 percent Section 8 again, but should remain primarily affordable for people earning, say, less than 30 to 50 percent of average median income. “There’s a tremendous need for affordable housing, and when we have a 266-unit affordable housing complex that already exists—albeit in need of repairs—it makes no sense to tear it down in favor of fancy new condos, especially when demand in this part of town is unlikely to sustain them.”

The Black and White Album

A review of a gallery show concerning assumptions about race led to a debate about our critic’s assumptions about race. In his review of Jefferson Pinder’s exhibit “Revivial,” Kriston Capps describes a “menacing figure” in a parking garage mouthing the words to The Beatles’ “Helter Skelter.” On Twitter, @spiritequality balked. “Ah, racism. @wcp arts writer @kristoncapps calls a black man a ‘menacing figure’ just for standing in a garage.”

“I think you are misreading me,” Capps tweeted. “My argument is that Pinder’s video cites irrational racist fears. I am not reacting in fear.”

The debate went on, with @spiritequality taking issue with Capps’ invocation of the Trayvon Martin shooting in his review. Capps’ response: “It may have been irrelevant to discuss Trayvon Martin in a show that is not about Martin. But issues are there.” @spiritequality’s retort: “About as irrelevant as a film reviewer bringing up the Holocaust when reviewing Despicable Me 2.”

The tête-à-tête got friendlier once @IMGoph pointed out that Capps and his detractor live on the same block near H Street NE. “Beers on me some time!” tweeted Capps.
“Of course!” wrote @spiritequality. “We’re surrounded by bars, after all.”

Department of Corrections

Due to a reporting error, "Rolling Papers" misspelled Segs in the City owner Bill Main’s name. And due to a reporting error, last week’s Loose Lips column incorrectly stated that Adam Eidinger started working for Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps after his Adams Morgan hemp store closed. In fact, he has worked for the company since 2001.

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