There is nothing quite as exhilarating as spending a cold December Saturday afternoon Christmas shopping at the Eastern Market.  Well, skinny dipping in an ice crusted Potomac River might be close, but, that is a different story.

Perhaps I should say,  up front, that, in spite of my humor, this is a positive story about one of my favorite places in the D.C.

The market is a mile or two east of Congress and a block or so north of Pennsylvania Avenue.  It is located in a neighborhood of brownstones and brick buildings that are well over 100 years old.  It is an expensive place to live and there is no parking—period.  Folks who live there and own cars either develop an effective strategy for finding a place to park their car or they don’t own a car or they rent a garage or parking spot somewhere else—probably Virginia.   

Vehicle registration is a challenge.  The problem with registering your vehicle in D.C. isn’t the expense, it’s the challenge in finding somewhere to pay the annual registration fees and get a new registration sticker.  Then after they do that, there is the time they have take off to challenge the parking tickets that they get because their “registration” was never put in the system. 

The problem with registering a vehicle in Virginia is being able to take a few days off to stand in line to either register it or get the annual inspection and pay the bill—both for the inspection and the registration.  Another challenge is finding a place to park while they register their car—but, yep, that’s a another Virginia story.

Washington, D.C., has an army of spies who can see through walls and sniff out non-D.C. vehicle registrations like a Mississippi hound dog can sniff out a fleeing chain gang felon.  So does Arlington, Virginia, so D.C. residents who rent parking spots in Virginia are frequently caught between a rock and a hard place—something otherwise known as dueling code enforcement officers. 

Average family income for a family of two in the Market area is at least $250,000, so but even so there are a lot of Obama stickers on windows and car bumpers.  A few blocks away, average income for a family of 5 or 6 is about $44,000 a year.

Did I say felon?  There is a Metro Station in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue that takes its name from the neighborhood.  If you research the local crime stats and go back a few years, plotting the locations of armed robberies on a common street map, you’ll end up with a spider web of dots with the Metro station at its center.  Most of the robberies happen between 4:30pm and 7:30pm , Monday through Friday, and the suspects described on the police announcements have no racial characteristics and no gender. 

Sometimes, the Post will carry a story that includes a suspect gender, but they have snitches inside the police department that leak this information.  It seems that ten years ago, or so, the local city council decided that since the violent crime suspect descriptions were overwhelmingly a specific gender and the racial description of the violent suspects were all but exclusively one racial descriptor, publishing these descriptions led to unfair profiling of their local criminals—not to mention City Council members.  In a city with more felons on the City Council than some municipalities have within their city limits, this notion found a sympathetic audience. 

Those of you who understand predatory behavior are probably thinking that the suspects ID their victims as the victims come out of the Metro, and you’re probably right.  You’re also not D.C. Metro police management.

Seasoned StreetCops around America will recognize this phenomenon of arrested police leadership as business as usual.

I confess,  I frequently go to the Market on a Saturday or Sunday, in warmer and colder times, sit around, stroll around, drink coffee, and wonder what the suspect descriptions might be.  There isn’t much to see when it gets real cold or snows.  There are few good restaurants on Pennsylvania Avenue but there are no Alberto’s Taco Chops and no Angelo’s Greek Gyro shops.

Back to the market—there is great produce, great seafood, great beef and pork and other meat products, wonderful art, wonderful street musicians and good but not great coffee.  And there is just as much flavor in the people you see there.  There are crafts and artworks from craftsmen and artist who have come to the D.C. to live and ply their craft or art from all over the world—but more come from the Caribbean area than others—and the seafood market smells like a seafood market.

Some of these photos have captions, most don’t.  The pictures tell a good story of life in the Capitol.

In spite of my wise cracks, I like the area, and it is only fair that I mention that I work with a lot of folks who grew up here or chose to live here and they all disagree with the flavor of my descriptions.

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Eastern Market