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Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr.TinDC

“Dear PoPville,

I’m trying to figure out why tap water in DC has been tasting so funny lately. About a month ago I was served water that tasted moldy to me at a restaurant in Columbia Heights. (My husband thinks it tastes like dirt, not mold). I figured they just had some unclean pitchers, even though our replacement waters still tasted bad. A week later my water at home (which we filter) in Sixteenth St Heights tasted moldy. Not constantly but for a while. And then today at work in NoMa our filtered water tastes moldy.

I grew up in DC drinking our tap water–I don’t recall it tasting like this in the past. My basic googling hasn’t uncovered any out of the ordinary stuff happening at WASA.

Has anyone else had the same problem? Does anyone have any idea what’s going on?”

Ed. Note: We’ve previously spoken about chlorine in the drinking water temporarily but that is usually around spring time.

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“Dear PoPville,

I saw this Halloween display on Woodley Rd near the Marriott. It looked like a very cool Halloween decoration from the road (it’s a mummy scarecrow, there are crows but the lighting was terrible at night so it was hard to capture them).

The sign on it says “This is a most tasteless display and sign (note: “sign” has a strike through). 4500 people have died and countless are grappling with it. Please be compassionate.”

I’m guessing the 4500 is referring to Ebola victims, but why the need for the sign? Does anyone out there know if there was another sign on it before that said “Ebola victim” or something, and that’s why the word “sign” is crossed out? I regret not having flipped this one over while I had the chance to see if the other side said anything antagonistic or controversial.”

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Photo by PoPville flickr user pablo.raw

“Dear PoPville,

I am moving in a few weeks and have some furniture that I need to get rid of. While some of it will sell on Craigslist, I am wondering what to do with whatever does not sell. I have looked into the Department of Public Works’ Bulk Trash Collection, and they only pick up at single family homes or apartment buildings with three or less units, so I am out of luck there. I have also looked into donating certain items to the Salvation Army, but they are very picky – rightfully so – about the condition of certain items and some of my stuff won’t make the cut. Any tips?”

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Photo by PoPville flickr user ep_jhu

“Dear PoPville,

I just moved to Emerson Street NW near the intersection of 4th Street. My realtor calls the neighborhood Petworth, but I have heard other people call it Brightwood Park, North Petworth, and even Fort Totten. I just want to know so people stop looking at me weird when I try to explain where I live. Soooo which is it?

Thanks,
Pet-wood-tten”

Never mind the DC Tax Office, wikipedia, your realtor, and/or your spiritual advisers: When someone says 4th and Emerson – what neighborhood do you associate it with?

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620 T Street, NW

“Dear PoPville,

I attended a party the night of Friday, October 17, 2014 at Howard Theatre. While walking up the stairs at the venue, I was approached by a man in the stairwell who I did not know and who would not leave me alone, when I turned around to walk away from him, he grabbed my butt. I hit him away from me and he pushed me twice, causing to to grab the railing to keep from falling down the stairs, and causing my cell phone to fly out of my hands. When I pointed him out to security, I was told by different security guards, “We’re closing in 30 minutes anyway, what’s the difference?” “He’s a street n____, and street n____s kill bitches for causing scenes like this.” and “Technically you were attacking him since you followed him out of the stairwell.” Not only did security fail to help me, but they blamed me for this attack.

I filed a police report with a DC Sex Crimes detective that night, and emailed a letter to Howard Theatre on Sunday the 19th (to which I received no response.)

This is a venue that hosts many concerts and events. The specific party is part of a celebration for Howard University’s homecoming and is attended by many college age women. I would like to know that they are going to do something to ensure that women are not accosted and that security is not negligent at future events.”

Update: A change.org petition has been created here.

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“Dear PoPville,

You know, you posted these photos a while back about the Peep Inn and the old bar on Georgia Avenue. Before it is knocked down (That is what the real estate guy on the sign told me when I called), it would be interesting know if people know anything about the old “PEEP IN” bar — how long ago it was open, what was it like, etc etc etc, what the history is. Was it even called “PEEP INN” or is that recycled glass??

I’ve always been fascinated by this place! Would love to get some insight into its history. I even called the DCRA and liquor license bureau to find out, but nothing came up. Clearly it was a bar.”

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4900 block of Georgia Ave

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“Dear PoPville,

On my morning commute today (via the S1) I noticed ads on the bus for Louis Farrakhan’s latest diatribe, called “The Time”.

Mr. Farrakhan has a long history of hateful sexist, racist, and anti-Semitic speech and recently even accused the government of spreading ebola to kill black people. While I respect his right under the First Amendment to spread such contemptible speech, I do not believe public transportation should broadcast this message via paid ads.

I wonder how the broader community feels about this?”

Ed. Note: Metro has previously faced criticism for pro and anti Israel campaigns. At that time The Post reported that metro was sued “on First Amendment grounds, a federal judge in Washington ordered the ads to be posted.”

croquet

“Dear PoPville,

I thought I had dodged a bullet when I saw three individuals on ATVs ride past me on my way home just now. But as I got closer to home, things took another turn. On Warder Street, I encountered the scene captured in this photo. Talk about sketch! As if Park Morton doesn’t have enough problems — now this.

Perhaps your readers know of something that can be done? Surely these people do not own this land, and have not cleared any croquet-related activity with the city. Yet there they were, using it with abandon. It’s so unnerving to be going about one’s business in an urban setting and then be confronted with a group of people wielding wooden clubs. When I looked at them for what must have been a second too long they made some sort of joke among themselves and just laughed.

You would have maybe hoped that this element would be too distracted by the Nationals to be on a street corner, menacing passersby with mallets and the threat of an errant ball. But no. I risked taking a photo but obviously I didn’t want to get very close. But I just had to let innocent people in the area know to beware. The last thing I want is to turn on the news tonight and see a report about Park View’s wicket problem.

Knowing that you care deeply about safety issues in the community, I wanted to let you know. Please keep this note anonymous, as I would be worried about possible retribution (I live on a street nearby).”

Ed. Note: Hilarious. Though I’m not sure if the woman hit by an ATV resulting in a broken pelvic bone, broken tailbone and a left broken leg, and other injuries would agree.

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Photo by PoPville flickr user wolfkann

“Dear PoPville,

I began the process of interviewing for group houses with the same apprehension that accompanies me in most social situations. Would there be a place for my introverted self in a city of outgoing, happy hour-frequenting DC socialites? Five weeks in, I have rephrased my question. I’ve made my best attempts at convincing future housemates that I’d be an asset to their home, modeling my responses off the sound logic of Goldilocks: I’m not too quiet, but not too loud; not crazily clean, but not too messy; down to hang, but never clingy. Despite my guarantees, I’m beginning to wonder if my physical dissimilarity to Goldilocks is working against me. I now ask myself: Could there a place for me in a group house if I’m not white?

The majority of the group houses I’ve visited – and subsequently been rejected from – have had a total of zero minority residents. In one house, the cheerful blonde who answered the door and provided a tour didn’t ask me a single question before showing me the exit. “We’ll text you!” she said encouragingly. Unsurprisingly, I later got a text that she had chosen someone else. In other interviews that provided greater opportunity for conversation, I tried to highlight different aspects of my personality: Dancer at Group House One, dog-lover at Group House Two, and artist at Group House Three. But no matter how I present myself, the fact remains that I am brown in a sea of white. In a city where my generation prides itself on being progressive and inclusive, where is the diversity in living arrangements?

I feel the pressure on the other end of the process as well. I am trying to fill my room in the house where I currently reside with two other South Asian women. After a few interviews, we began to wonder whether people felt uncomfortable in our all-brown residence. We agreed that perhaps only two of us should be at home during the interviews, as to not overwhelm anyone’s white sensibilities. I even considered asking a white friend to come over to put interviewees at ease. The combination of my experiences has made me question whether people’s “gut feelings” can ever truly be color blind. As a plethora of recent research shows, implicit bias seeps into every area of our lives, affecting our interactions, relationships, and decision-making. Research from the Urban Institute that has tracked racial discrimination in the housing market over time has found that it stubbornly persists today; in controlled experiments, minority homeseekers are still told about and shown fewer housing units than their white counterparts. Everything we know about implicit bias suggests that it would have a significant effect on decisions as personal as selecting a stranger with whom to cohabit a home.

It remains unclear whether I will ever find a spot in a group house. To my fellow twenty-somethings: Let’s put our progressive ideals into practice and check ourselves on even the most subtle forms of bias. Oh, and if you’re looking for a housemate, you know who to call.

Shebani Rao is a researcher at the Urban Institute. The views expressed here are hers alone, and are not intended to reflect those of the Urban Institute.