This Week On Metro Connection: Falling (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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This Week On Metro Connection: Falling

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

Welcome to "Metro Connection." I am Rebecca Sheir. And now that our hot, steamy summer is officially over, we're looking forward to those crisp, leaves-changing days of autumn with a show all about falling. We hit the streets to see what your favorite things are about fall in the Washington region. And here's what you had to say.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN

Definitely jumping in piles of leaves.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN

Just be outside, get out of the city.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN

Drink apple cider. Eat pumpkin pie, or even better, make pumpkin pie.

WOMAN

I mean I look forward to the Starbucks pumpkin spice latte, which I have right now.

MAN

I like to go to pumpkin patches with my son.

WOMAN

Football, World Series.

MAN

I mean, if the weather's like this, it's still nice to go to a park, take a walk, things like that.

SHEIR

Of course, there are plenty of other kinds of falls, too. Many of which we'll explore over the next hour. Like for instance, falling head over heels in love.

WOMAN

He was allergic to cats actually. And that was one of my mother's big things. She was, she said, are you sure that you want to be with somebody who's allergic to cats?

SHEIR

We'll also hear about a 19th century entrepreneur whose physical fall nearly erased his name from history.

WOMAN

We were telling the story to one of our friends and they said, oh, well he literally fell off the wagon.

SHEIR

Plus, we'll visit an all-important kilogram, whose weight may or may not be falling. And we'll meet two women who document homicides in D.C. and Baltimore. The rates of which are continuing to go down. First though, something else that may be going down in the D.C. region is the number of places like this.

MR. ERIC RICE

So we've got oak flooring in this one. It's a little more traditional style.

SHEIR

We're talking about residences for sale. Big windows in the back, looking out into the yard.

RICE

Tons of light, which is great.

SHEIR

And today we're in D.C.'s Petworth neighborhood. Where realtor Eric Rice...

RICE

Parking, yard space, open kitchen.

SHEIR

Is showing me a three-bedroom, three-bathroom house on Fourth Street northwest. This one, how much are they asking?

RICE

$619,000.

SHEIR

As of this interview, how long has it been on the market?

RICE

15 days. So I think this one might be around for a little while. Probably not a tremendous amount of time.

SHEIR

And that, says Rice, is increasingly common. See over the past five years, D.C.'s for sale inventory has decreased. This year, for instance, the number of houses on the market is two-thirds what it was last year. And about half of what it was in 2008. As a result, prices are up and the number of days a house stays on the market, is down.

MS. SAMIA PATEL

You know, as I'm looking through comps, I always look to see how long a house is on the market. A lot of them are single digits. I'd say averagely it's a month or right under that. But I've seen houses that are gone in one day, five days, six days.

SHEIR

And the reason Samia Patel tends to look through comps, or comparables, that's the list of criteria from recently sold properties in a neighborhood. Like sale price, square footage, the house's age, that kind of thing. Anyway, the reason Patel is so well-versed in comps is because she buys houses in the D.C. area, then renovates and sells them.

PATEL

I started in 2007, when the market was at its peak. And I finished my first house just as the market was tanking. So then I stopped doing it and got back into it about two years ago. So I have actually got a good perspective over like the bubble, the bubble bursting, the bubble coming back. And I'm actually very surprised by now, how much of a seller's market it's become again.

SHEIR

Patel recently showed me around her latest renovation. It's a five-bedroom, two-bathroom house in Kensington, Md., which she recently put on the market. Asking price? $490,000. By the time this story airs, do you think it will be snatched up?

PATEL

Well, I don't want to say because then the story will air, and if it's not, I'll look very stupid. I think it should be snatched up.

SHEIR

And chances are it will be. After all, Patel put a ton of time and money into making this house all sparkly and shiny and as she's come to learn...

PATEL

Buyers like shiny.

SHEIR

But the market's so tight she says, that even anything but shiny properties are hot right now.

PATEL

I went to an auction for a house, I think it was Garrett Park. It was like a tiny house. It had mold all over the basement. I don't even think you could be there for more than five minutes safely. There were a hundred people that showed up outside that house for the auction that day. It was listed at $199,000. It ended up selling for over four hundred-something thousand dollars.

SHEIR

The thing is, whether we're talking about houses for flipping, or houses for living, the situation seems to be the same. Inventory is low, prices are high. And as a result, says Lisa Sturtevant, deputy director of the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis, home ownership rates in the D.C. region are falling.

MS. LISA STURTEVANT

Rates have been falling nationally, but they've been falling faster here. They have fallen from about 69 percent at its peak to about 63 percent.

SHEIR

The reasons, she says, are manifold. More jobs in D.C. are attracting more people in their 20s -- people who are more likely to rent. Home loans are harder to come by. Foreclosures have shifted more single family homes to the rental market. And, as we've heard, for sale inventory is down.

STURTEVANT

There was for awhile a lot of hesitancy for a seller to put their home on the market. They weren't sure, frankly, that they'd be able to find a house to buy themselves if they sold their house. If they were going to stay in the region they needed to find that move-up house. And there's a lot of people, frankly, who are underwater on their mortgages, and they can't sell their house.

SHEIR

Also Sturtevant says, there's a historically-low supply of new homes.

STURTEVANT

Because new home construction basically ground to a halt during the recession. We have been seeing an uptick in residential construction here in the region over the last couple of years, but it's been primarily in multi-family rental housing. It's only just very recently that the single family market has started to come back.

SHEIR

And we have the issue of sequestration. With so many federal employees in the region, there's growing concern about how federal spending cuts may affect people's jobs.

STURTEVANT

If the budget cuts go through, our analysis shows that the state of Virginia, for example, will lose 207,000 jobs.

SHEIR

So if those cuts go through?

STURTEVANT

There's going to be less demand for housing here. And that would result in a slowdown in the housing market in the winter and then spring.

SHEIR

If, on the other hand, the federal government makes decisions that inspire more economic certainty...

STURTEVANT

Then we'll see a stronger winter and spring housing market. So we don't know. It sort of depends on what the feds do.

SHEIR

In the meantime though, Lisa Sturtevant has advice for potential homebuyers out there.

STURTEVANT

If you're going to stay in a region for, they say generally between five to seven years, and you want to be a homeowner, then it's still a good option for people.

SHEIR

Though in this region, adds house-flipper Samia Patel, you'd better act fast.

PATEL

You just have to jump, you know, in his market. If you see something you love and it's in your price range, or even if you have to stretch a tiny bit, but not to the point of uncomfortable, just do it. You'll never regret buying a house that you love.

SHEIR

And realtor Eric Rice agrees.

RICE

You don't want to act without being educated. So you want to look at the comparables, make sure you're paying a fair price, or if you're paying slightly over the market value, you know that you're paying slightly over the market value. But if you're entering the market, be ready to move quickly or be ready to lose the first house that you love.

SHEIR

Because in the current market, where sellers are calling the shots, home isn't just where the heart is. More often than not, it's where the fastest, highest bidder is, too.

SHEIR

This week's theme is again, falling. And as we hinted at the top of the show, something that's been falling in D.C. is the number of homicides. Last year, D.C. logged 108 murders. As of the middle of this week, we were at 64. Baltimore is seeing a similar trend, although September has been a particularly violent month for Charm City. Baltimore has seen more than 160 homicides this year, 20 of them this month alone. As the homicide rates drop, two journalists are continuing to log each death and make sure no murder goes unnoticed. Emily Friedman has the story.

MS. EMILY FRIEDMAN

Anna Ditkoff is sitting in her living room with a baby strapped to her chest and a MacBook Air resting on her lap. It's just after 9:00 A.M., time to make the first call of the day.

MS. ANNA DITKOFF

I think I'm one of the few people with the Baltimore City police on their favorites on their phone.

MS. ANNA DITKOFF

Hi, Marlene, it's Anna calling for the homicides. Your computers are down? Okay, when should I call back?

FRIEDMAN

This is typical says Ditkoff. Some days she can't get through to the police until the afternoon.

DITKOFF

So I keep a spreadsheet for each year. I do the date, then the name of the victim, their date of birth, their age, their sex, their race, was it a single homicide, or was it a double shooting with one homicide or triple homicide. And then, when available, motive. Almost all of my motive blocks say unknown.

FRIEDMAN

Ditkoff has kept up the spread sheet since 2004. That's when she began writing a column for the Baltimore City Paper called Murder Ink, which tracks all the homicides in Baltimore. She started it, she says, to fill a void.

DITKOFF

I assumed that the TV news was covering every homicide or that the daily paper was covering every homicide, which at the time they just weren't. It was just so commonplace in Baltimore -- just wasn't even news.

FRIEDMAN

She wanted to know more about these people. Who were they? Where did they live? And who are the suspects?

DITKOFF

If you're murdered in Baltimore City, your name should appear in a newspaper.

FRIEDMAN

And once she began reporting, sometimes the truth was overwhelming.

DITKOFF

Over the years I've gotten inured to sort of the day-in-day-out of doing this column and hearing so much tragedy. But there's still weeks and incidents that, you know, are very upsetting. There was a man who killed his three children in a hotel room in Baltimore. There was a woman that got killed because she bumped into another woman on the dance floor at a club. I mean, who doesn't bump into someone when they're dancing at a crowded club? And sometimes here that could end your life.

DITKOFF

Hey, Marlene, it's Anna. Are the computers back up? So have there been any homicides since last we spoke? 2800 block Chesterfield Avenue. 22:26 hours. M-A-R-V-I-T.

FRIEDMAN

Last night, Ditkoff learns, Peter Marvit was killed as he arrived from home from choral rehearsal.

DITKOFF

For initial report of a what? Multiple gunshot wounds to the torso and head.

FRIEDMAN

This case is typical she says because it was a shooting and there's no known motive. But unlike most of Baltimore's homicide victims, Marvit was white.

DITKOFF

African-Americans make up about 60 percent of Baltimore City's population and approximately 90 percent of their homicide victims.

FRIEDMAN

After she hangs up with the police, Ditkoff takes the data and writes up a short narrative.

DITKOFF

I like to try and point out some trends, like, you know, if there's been a lot of murders in a particular neighborhood. Or to point out to people that maybe this homicide is closer to where they were that day than they think, you know, really giving you a sense of how these things build, you know, what a whole week in Baltimore is like as far as homicides.

FRIEDMAN

Washington D.C. has just half the per capita homicide rate of Baltimore. As of Thursday, there have been 66 homicides in the district. Back in the early '90s, D.C. was losing nearly 500 people a year to murder.

MS. LAURA AMICO

My first week on the beat at D.C. Superior Court I was talking to a defense attorney and I remember very clearly he said, well why would you cover homicides, you know, there's fewer every year. You're going to be out of work soon.

FRIEDMAN

Laura Amico is the writer and editor of a website called Homicide Watch D.C.

AMICO

We're trying to build a resource that goes beyond the typical blotter of just listing what the crimes are. Part of what that means is that we build individual newsfeeds for every victim and every suspect in D.C.

FRIEDMAN

Amico had been a crime reporter for years in California. When she moved here with her husband she noticed there was no centralized hub for news on every homicide case in the District. If you go on Homicide Watch D.C. now, two years after Amico came up with the concept, you'll find up-to-date court records, original reporting, robust comments from the victim's families and friends. Even phone numbers for the detectives assigned to the case.

AMICO

I frequently hear from detectives that they're following Homicide Watch very closely and because we have the detective's names and phone numbers for each case on the site, they're actually getting calls. It's not something that we set out to do, but I conceive of journalism as being a community resource.

FRIEDMAN

Amico and her husband, who does all the programming for the site, are currently at Harvard on a journalism fellowship. They're making plans to launch the Homicide Watch platform in as many as 10 cities by the end of the year. And even though crime reporting is fascinating work, Amico says, what she really wants is to one day be put out of a job. I'm Emily Friedman.

SHEIR

Time for a quick break. But when we get back, the demise of a court program designed for drug offenders.

WOMAN

Drug addiction is not something you just treat once and you're cured. You have to continue to work hard at it every day of your life.

SHEIR

That and more in a minute on "Metro Connection" here on WAMU 88.5.

SHEIR

I'm Rebecca Sheir. Welcome back to "Metro Connection." Now that fall is officially here, our theme this week is Falling. Get it? Falling for fall. Falling. Fall. Anyway, moving on, we'll start off this part of the show with a story about people who've fallen to the fringes of society. And a county program that fell out of favor. We're talking about the Loudoun County Drug Court, which since 2004 had been working with people convicted of drug related offenses.

SHEIR

In a split vote earlier this year, Loudon County supervisors voted to cut funding for the program. Drug courts are based on the idea that non-violent drug addicted offenders need intensive treatment and close supervision to break the cycle of addiction-driven behavior. Jonathan Wilson headed to Berryville, Va., to meet up with Loudon's former drug court coordinator, Michelle White. As they sat outside, she explained why she had to fight for the program every year and what it was like to finally lose that battle.

MR. JONATHAN WILSON

That first docket -- do you remember that? I mean, were you in the courtroom?

MS. MICHELLE WHITE

Certainly. We had one person on the docket. Everybody starts with at least one. And it wasn't perfect. I can say that for sure, it wasn't perfect. It was a learning process. I don't think we ever stopped learning in drug court. Because you can't. You have new people with new issues coming along every single day, and so part of it is the art of learning how to deal within the system to get those people what they need.

WILSON

Some of the prosecutors, some of the judges didn't get compensation for working these extra hours, and yet they all seemed to be, or at least the judges seemed to be, very supportive of the drug court. Is that correct?

WHITE

It is. Extremely supportive, yes.

WILSON

So why was it still hard to convince people? What would people say to argue against drug court?

WHITE

Sure. And this is, these are not arguments that are only ever heard in Loudon County, of course. These are things that are heard in many, many places. So some people believe that it's coddling. Some people believe the people should just be incarcerated. That drug addiction is not appropriately dealt with in the system other than incarcerating people so they can't use.

WILSON

How did you guys make sure that you weren't coddling these people?

WHITE

Well it's funny, you could probably ask any one of them if they felt coddled at any point in time and I'm sure they would say no. When there is someone over your shoulder, particularly in the beginning of the program, saying what did you do today, what are you going to do tomorrow? Call me tomorrow and tell me what you did. That's a lot of oversight.

WHITE

Then you have someone coming to your employer, you have someone coming to your house, you have to go to treatment intensively every week, you have to come to court to tell two judges whether you've done what you're supposed to do or not. And then if you haven't, you face consequences. When a person would test positive in the Loudon program for any kind of illegal substance, they went to jail. We have expectations of you. And if those expectations are not met, and you're out of control and a danger to yourself, you have to stop the behavior and start over.

WILSON

Did this year feel different than previous years, and was it something that got you emotional? I mean did you ever have trouble, and I know this is your job and you're a professional person, but did you ever have trouble when you're talking and fighting keeping your emotions in check?

WHITE

The worst part in all of it is not, you know, poor Michelle because, you know, her job is on the line yet again. It is that you saw it working. You saw people transform themselves from homeless, jobless, criminal activity committing drug addicts. And I'm not trying to say that they're bad people. I'm saying that they were in bad places and that we helped them. It wasn't always pretty, it wasn't always fun, but we helped them and they, I think they learned about themselves, and they grew as people.

WHITE

And when that had to be taken away and they would say I know, I've been in the regular system. It didn't work, that's why I'm here. And then we say to them, I'm sorry, but the regular system is all that is left for you. That's the worst part. A job is a job whether I loved it or not. It's their life. We had people in drug court who died because of their addiction. And so when we would say to people, we are trying to save your life, we meant it.

SHEIR

That was Michelle White, Loudon County's former drug court coordinator talking with WAMU's Jonathan Wilson. This story came to us via WAMU's Public Insight Network or PIN. It's a way for people to share their experiences with us and a way for us to reach out for input on stories we're working on. You can find more information about the Public Insight Network by visiting metroconnection.org/pin.

SHEIR

This next story on today's "Falling" show is about something that's falling kind of out of whack. It's the official kilogram of the United States, and yes, there is an official kilogram of the United States. It's a copy, actually, of a platinum iridium kilogram that's stored in France. But anyway, the copy, which you can find in Gaithersburg, Md, is used to calibrate everything from gas pumps to bathroom scales. But, as Sabri Ben-Achour explains, the weight of our official kilogram is ever so mysteriously changing.

MR. SABRI BEN-ACHOUR

So, back in the day, doing trade between countries was kind of tough at times.

MAN

I'll give you a very good deal, I'll give you ten smirdlaps (sp?) of spices for two gold pieces.

MAN

I don't know what a smirdlap is, but it sounds foreign and untrustworthy. So how about 15 what you call its of spice for three gold pieces?

MAN

You are trying to rip me off.

BEN-ACHOUR

Well, it wasn't that simple at all, but still.

MR. PATRICK ABBOTT

You know, if you're measuring mass in smirdlaps and I'm measuring them in whatcha calls, then somehow, if you and I want to do business, then I have to know how many smirdlaps are in a whatcha call, to ensure fair trade.

BEN-ACHOUR

That's physicist Patrick Abbott. In 1875, 17 nations got together and decided they needed a standard definition of weight and length so they could all follow the metric system reliably. They made a platinum iridium cylinder that was to be the standard, like the definition of the kilogram, for the planet. They kept the original in France, and then made official copies of it, and one of them is here. Well, just behind this door. And this other door. And a couple more doors.

ABBOTT

Two bell jars, three panes of glass here, and if you want to start counting locks, normally four, five, six.

BEN-ACHOUR

And then, it's usually in a safe.

ABBOTT

Anything at all will change the mass. Anything on the surface.

BEN-ACHOUR

It's metallic, silver looking, perfectly polished, and small -- just a little bigger than a golf ball.

ABBOTT

It is a cylinder of platinum iridium, 90 percent platinum, 10 percent iridium, and it was made in approximately 1889.

BEN-ACHOUR

This is the kilogram for the United States of America, kept behind lock and key at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg. Every prescription you take, every pound of fruit you buy, every ounce of self-loathing you feel when they you at your scale is all calibrated to this piece of platinum iridium metal.

ABBOTT

Everything that is sold, you know, this is sold by weight, is ultimately related to the kilograms, trillions of dollar industry.

BEN-ACHOUR

But, there's a small problem.

ABBOTT

It is changing.

BEN-ACHOUR

The definition of the kilogram is changing. The original in France and the copies don't match anymore. The standard in France is losing mass, compared to the copies.

BEN-ACHOUR

How is it possible that it could change?

ABBOTT

It could be losing mass as a result of things coming out of it. For instance, gaseous impurities can diffuse out. No one really knows.

BEN-ACHOUR

The point is, is that it's changing. Now, this change is not like by a whole lot.

ABBOTT

Fifty micrograms over the last 100 years.

BEN-ACHOUR

So like a grain of sand?

ABBOTT

Grains of sand are actually pretty heavy. They would be on the order of hundreds micrograms.

BEN-ACHOUR

Maybe a human hair? An eyelash?

ABBOTT

No, that's a pretty -- eyelashes are pretty thick, actually. The smallest piece of dust you can see, it's about 17 micrograms.

BEN-ACHOUR

OK, so we're talking a little less than three particles of dust.

ABBOTT

Yes, yes, yes, over 100 years.

BEN-ACHOUR

So, like, who cares?

MR. MARK RUEFANACHT

The drift in the kilogram becomes important to me because of the precision and the accuracy that's required for my particular laboratory.

BEN-ACHOUR

Mark Ruefanacht calibrates scales for a living. He’s with Heusser-Neweigh and sometimes teaches at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

RUEFANACHT

In our particular laboratory, we definitely see those changes. We are always adjusting for the latest information from the calibrations that we receive from NIST, and in essence, there is some frustration because it always feels like we've got this moving target.

BEN-ACHOUR

So that means he can't guarantee the measurement of super, teensy, tiny amounts.

RUEFANACHT

We’re already seeing the need for measuring these smaller things in the biotechnologies and in the pharmaceutical worlds.

BEN-ACHOUR

Pharmaceuticals already measure things out in pretty small quantities.

RUEFANACHT

If you think about a pill that you take, often times there's only a few milligrams, or what we would say, a few grains of salt that are actually the active ingredient in each pill. The rest of it is just kind of starch or filler that helps us swallow down that active ingredient.

BEN-ACHOUR

So what scientists in governments around the world are trying to do is get rid of the kilogram. Not the idea of the kilogram, but the piece of metal. So they're trying to tie the definition of the kilogram to something cosmically stable. So they're looking at something called Planck constant.

ABBOTT

The Planck constant is a constant that arises out of quantum mechanics.

BEN-ACHOUR

That's physicist Patrick Abbott again.

ABBOTT

But that depends then on the electrical parameters, like the Josephson...

BEN-ACHOUR

Look, it's just math, OK? It's a number relating light and energy.

ABBOTT

It comes up over and over and over again in quantum mechanics.

BEN-ACHOUR

They're also looking at something called Avogadro's constant. The point is, is that these things aren't going to change. And they've done this for a few other units, like a second is defined by the time taken for a certain number of changes in a cesium atom. Or a meter is related to how far light travels in a certain period of time. But for the kilogram, they can’t quite measure the physical constant that they need, the Planck constant, well enough for it to be worthy of being an international standard. So more and more countries are trying to get this right over the next few years.

BEN-ACHOUR

Until then, those platinum iridium cylinders are the standard, even as they ever so slowly and mysteriously drift apart from one another. I'm Sabri Ben-Achour.

SHEIR

For pictures of the U.S. kilogram and more on its history, visit our website, metroconnection.org.

SHEIR

And now our weekly trip around the region. On today's "Door to Door" we visit Boulevard Manor in Arlington, Va. and Shaw in Northwest D.C.

MR. RAY MOLISKY

My name is Ray Molisky (sp?) and I live on Q Street and I've been there for 26 years. Shaw came about as a result of Shaw Junior High School but the original borders of what was to be called Shaw was up from the, used to be the Carnegie Library in front of a convention center, all the way up to U Street. And then from New Jersey Avenue over to, as far as some say, to 16th Street.

MR. RAY MOLISKY

There are good solid homes here and my house is where the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters had their headquarters for Washington and the march on Washington was planned in my house. So I'm really proud of that fact.

MR. RAY MOLISKY

It has always been a very diverse neighborhood and lots of different kinds of people have lived here. There's been a little bit of everybody who's contributed but it's always been a working class neighborhood and this was pretty rural and there still are a few old farmhouses in the neighborhood which is kind of cool.

MR. RAY MOLISKY

I'm really excited about the O Street Market finally being rejuvenated because I think that will give a whole new face to our community.

MR. PHIL KLINGELHOFER

I'm Phil Klingelhofer, I've in Boulevard Manor for the past 24 years. Boulevard Manor encompasses approximately 460 homes. It's in western Arlington close to Seven Corners and the east and west are two parks. Well, the parks are really wonderful, they're one of the treasures that we have in this neighborhood. Bluemont is one of the largest parks in Arlington, it's got foxes and deer and owls and all the kinds of neat animals that you'd like to have around you.

MR. PHIL KLINGELHOFER

The Reeves farm is the last operating dairy farm in Arlington. It's currently part of Bluemont Park. Nelson Reeves himself was born in 1900 and there are stories about how he would sit out on his porch and regale the neighbors with his stories of being a farmer back in the early '20s and the farmhouse, a white clapboard farmhouse with a simple porch out front, it's the typical farmhouse that they would've built in the 1880s or 1860s and that particular farmhouse sits on this wonderful hill I mentioned and that's a fantastic sledding spot. That is one of the main activities in the neighborhood that brings everyone together whenever we have a good snowstorm.

SHEIR

We heard from Phil Klingelhofer in Boulevard Manor and Ray Molisky in Shaw. If you think your neighborhood should be part of "Door to Door," send an email to metro@wamu.org or visit us on Facebook, that facebook.com/metroconnection.org. And you can see a map of all the doors we've knocked on so far on our website, that's metroconnection.org.

SHEIR

And now folks, we pass the microphone to you, to read from "Your Letters" and emails. Last week Emily Friedman did a story about artist Nicole Bourgea, who's created these life-size oil paintings of random strangers who pass in the street. She's about to put those portraits back out on the street with signs saying, "If this is you, this painting is yours to take." Well, our listener, Kathleen, loved this idea, and writes that she "will probably be looking around town for any and all paintings of myself, just in case."

SHEIR

A few weeks ago Jonathan Wilson took us inside the admissions offices at two local private schools. That story prompted this response from Yvette in Clinton, Md. She writes, "I heard Metro Connection's report on private school admissions policies. I listened intently, having gone through the process twice in the last two years. I have to say the representatives from the schools were totally disingenuous. As a parent, I did not receive any offers for help or possible placements in other schools that may have been a good fit for our son. We only received a two to three sentence rejection letter. He's a freshman at Gonzaga, everyone else's loss.

SHEIR

And finally, Sabri Ben-Achour's recent story on tourist farmers, also known as woofers, received some enthusiastic responses from people who've taken part in this sort of apprenticeship on the land. Susan writes, "When my husband and I took a year off to backpack around the world, we used WWOOFing as a way to get to know locals and culture and to help us defray costs. We WWOOFed in Australia and New Zealand, we worked on a lavender Farm and a miniature horse and cattle farm. It was a fantastic time. I would recommend it to everyone.

SHEIR

If you'd like to comment on a story we've recently aired or suggest an idea for a future, send us a message. Our email address is metro@wamu.org and we're also on Facebook, at facebook.com/metroconnection.org.

SHEIR

After the break, we pour ourselves a tall cold one and continue our series on D.C.'s most colorful dive bars.

MAN

This is a neighborhood establishment. This is a place where the community gathers. There's members of Congress, lobbyists, lawyers, certified auto mechanics. We all come here. This is the other Capitol Hill.

SHEIR

It's coming your way on "Metro Connection," here on WAMU 88.5.

SHEIR

Welcome back to "Metro Connection." I'm Rebecca Sheir and now that fall is officially here, on this week's show we are, appropriately enough, Falling. We've heard about the falling number of homes for sell in the D.C. housing market and later on, we're going to share your tales of falling love. We'll also take a dive on Capitol Hill for the latest in our "D.C. Dives" series. But first, we're going to get a little bit literal with our Falling theme and talk about a guy who 123 years ago took quite the tragic tumble. It's the topic of our regular series "The Location."

SHEIR

In which Kim Bender, author of the blog "The Location," helps us explore the hidden history of Washington's places, people and culture. And this week we're checking out a location...

SHEIR

And what location are we visiting today, Kim Bender?

SHEIR

...not too far from the site of that fateful 19th century fall.

MS. KIM BENDER

Today we are standing right in between what once was 1225 and 1227 10th Street Northwest.

SHEIR

Today, 1225 and 1227 are open spaces, adjacent long and narrow tracks of land where rowhouses once stood. At the back of the lots is a quaint carriage house and we can actually thank that carriage house for the story we're about to hear, since it was the house's owners that led Kim to uncover this little known piece of D.C. history.

BENDER

The people who live in the carriage house are Anna and Dan Kahoe and they own Good Wood, which is a store on U Street that sells vintage furniture and old objects. So I was at Good Wood and Anna Kahoe approached me and started talking to me and I remember that I had looked up the building that she was living in that point and it's called the Louise Hand Laundry. It's on 12th Street right around the corner.

BENDER

And I said, you know, I was researching it for my blog and she said, well, maybe you want to come write about the new place we're moving into, which is this carriage house. And maybe you could look up the history and see if there's something interesting behind it.

BENDER

And I research tons and tons of addresses and properties around the city all the time trying to find out if there's some interesting history and usually come up short. And this one had something really tragic but interesting.

SHEIR

Let's hear the story.

BENDER

So in 1887, Samuel Huntress got a building permit for this lot. He was what the newspaper later called, a perambulating coal oil dealer, which basically meant that he sold coal from his wagon. He both 1225 and 1227 and he and his wife and his son lived in 1225. Two years later, on Aug. 9, 1889, the elderly Huntress, we're not really sure how old he was, was riding in his wagon with his employee James Combs, who's 26 and black, which kind of comes in to play later in the story.

BENDER

They're riding their wagon having just come back from selling coal. Witnesses all said they were very, very drunk. Other witnesses saw them turning around the corner of Blagden Alley, right in back of the carriage house here, getting really into a fight. Huntress punched Combs. Combs fell backwards in the wagon. The blow to Combs caused Huntress to go off balance. He lost control of the carriage. The carriage hit a building and they were both thrown off the wagon. And Huntress hit his head on the cobblestones and he died.

SHEIR

What happened to Combs? Did he survive?

BENDER

He survived, he was fine except for the fact that he was immediately arrested in suspicion of murder. And over the next few days, the coroner did an inquest to try to figure out the cause of death of Samuel Huntress and whether it was Combs' fault.

BENDER

What I think is an interesting part of the story is that Combs was acquitted by six witnesses who all corroborated his story, but all six of the witnesses were black. And so I find that to be very interesting, that in 1889, a black man who was arrested seemingly with no cause was absolved of any wrongdoing by his peers.

SHEIR

Okay, so Huntress had both of these buildings, he died in this accident. How did we get from those two buildings, those two long skinny rowhouses to what we have now which is all this empty space where these long skinny rowhouses used to be?

BENDER

1227 we know as been gone for a while, not sure how long. 1225 came down in 2009 after a raze permit had been approved. Actually the woman who owned this building before the Kahoes tried really hard to save the building but it was in too much disrepair so it's been a problem for a while. And I'm sure that once 1227 was gone, 1225 didn't have a lot of support because they shared the same inner structural wall. So I wonder how much that had to do with it, too.

SHEIR

But, lest you think this story has an unhappy ending, something you should know about Anna and Dan Kahoe, their unrelenting history buffs with a deep passion and respect for preserving the past. That's why they've spent year fixing up the carriage house that stood behind Samuel Huntress's two buildings. And now that Kim Bender has unearthed Huntress's story, Anna says she and Dan are planning a little homage to our nearly forgotten perambulating coal oil dealer.

MS. ANNA KAHOE

We had always considered painting an old sign on the back of the building but when we tried to figure out what the building. So now we are designing a sign that says Huntress Coal Oil Company.

SHEIR

So if you two hadn't come together you wouldn't have known?

KAHOE

No, because I had looked. I had tried to find information about it and I couldn't.

BENDER

And I research so many places and usually come up with nothing so it was very cool that it was something. There's like a really interesting story behind the place.

SHEIR

To read even more about this interesting story, you can find a link to Kim Bender's blog, "The Location," on our website, metroconnection.org. And if you've stumbled across a hidden piece of D.C. history you think we should cover on "The Location," let us know, our email address is metro@wamu.org.

SHEIR

Time now for one of our favorite monthly segments, "D.C. Dives."

MR. JERAD WALKER

What is a dive bar?

MAN

The glorious dump.

MAN

It's got to have an interesting staff and an interesting crowd.

MAN

It's got to be dark, it's got to be old. Typically it's got to be cheap.

SHEIR

This time around we head to Capitol Hill where Jerad Walker takes us to an iconic bar that goes back decades.

WALKER

On the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 4th Street Southeast, just off Seward Square, sits the Tune Inn Restaurant and Bar. In many ways, this bar's history is a story about a family. Owner Lisa Nardelli's grandfather purchased the building in 1947.

MS. LISA NARDELLI

He was the first generation and he worked here his whole life. My father then worked here his whole life and I'm the third generation.

WALKER

Capitol Hill has changed significantly since Joe Nardelli set up shop. So it might surprise some to find a dive bar in an affluent neighborhood most famous for its marble-columned government buildings and picturesque row houses. But bar regular Don Kaniewski says Capitol Hill residents and the people who work here are no different from anyone else.

MR. DAN KANIEWSKI

This is a neighborhood establishment. This is the other Capitol Hill and this is a place where the community gathers. There's members of Congress, lobbyists, lawyers, certified auto mechanics. We all come here.

WALKER

This gathering place almost shuttered for good on June 22, 2011, when a kitchen fire caused widespread damage to the bar. Nardelli was faced with a painful decision.

NARDELLI

Everyone kept saying, why choose to rebuild at this point? So much of the character is gone. So much of the personality. You won't be able to get a lot of that history back.

WALKER

But to the delight of the community, she chose to rebuild and reopen. Bartender Matt Manley says he was surprised by the outpouring of support the bar received at the time.

MR. MATT MANLEY

I had no idea that so many people would turn out and have a fundraiser for the staff, you know, and really pitch in to help clean it up and empty it out when we were initially getting all the things out. And I never thought regulars would show up and help out, you know, at their neighborhood bar, but they did and I was flattered by all of it.

WALKER

With her renovations, Nardelli attempted to strike a balance between introducing new items and saving old ones, including the bar's oddball collection of taxidermy.

NARDELLI

We were able to restore everything that was on the walls. We painstakingly took down every single item. Every dead roadkill that was ever up on the wall we took down and we chemically treated and we put in a climate controlled environment for the course of the fire restoration.

WALKER

So let me get this straight, you chemically treated and climate controlled stored stuffed deer?

NARDELLI

Yes, lovingly, painstakingly, yes. I went to a taxidermist that does work with the Smithsonian and he's done such phenomenal work. They look better than they ever looked.

WALKER

I toured the bar's new digs with John "Solly" Solomon, a former neighborhood regular who now owns and operates Solly's Tavern on U Street.

MR. JOHN "SOLLY" SOLOMON

I can't believe this new tin ceiling. That's great, you know, a throwback there. There's wood paneling, the pleather booths. But none of them have rips in them, they fixed all of those. No duct tape over them. Plenty of dead animals and antlers on the wall. Tons of pictures of the bar from way back.

WALKER

Halfway through Solly notices something else that changed.

SOLOMON

The smoking ban because of the haze that used to be in here and the way that everything would yellow over time you don't have that anymore. It takes a lot longer for everything to look old.

WALKER

I asked Solly if that would be a problem for the Tune Inn.

SOLOMON

No, I think it's just accepted now. You know, you can replicate it by not dusting.

WALKER

And Tune Inn regular Don Kaniewski isn't worried about the bar either. He says it's only changed superficially.

KANIEWSKI

You know, the people never change. I mean they do but the same attitude prevails. It never pretends to be more than it is. Breakfast anytime, off the corner on the square, and no matter who you are, you're always welcome.

WALKER

I'm Jerad Walker.

SHEIR

Do you have a favorite dive bar you think we should visit for this series? If so, let us know. Our email address is metro@wamu.org or send us a tweet, our handle is @wamumetro.

SHEIR

We'll end today's show with a kind of "Falling" that may be the most mysterious and universal kind there is, falling in love. Officially here on this week's show we are appropriately enough "Falling."

SHEIR

We recently asked people in WAMU's public insight network to share their stories about the moment they fell in love. Here are some of their tales as told to "Metro Connection's" Raphaella Bennin.

MS. MENOSH APPL

I'm Menosh Appl, I live in Falls Church and I'm 29 years old.

MR. CRAIG APPL

Hi, I'm Craig Appl, I'm Menosh's husband and I'm 28 years old.

APPL

He's a year younger, that's okay, though.

APPL

When I knew that I was in love with her? Such a difficult question to answer.

APPL

I had no clue that I liked him.

APPL

I mean, she says I might've had a crush on her but I didn't know that I liked her.

APPL

So we met at ASHOKA (sp?) which is a nonprofit and I used to be a receptionist there.

APPL

And I was a temp for about six weeks.

APPL

So he asked me if I played chess and I said, "Yes, of course I play chess.

APPL

And so I said, "All right, let's do it." And that chess game turned into five chess games and five hours.

APPL

That was it, would be our first, I guess, quote, unquote, date.

APPL

And after that it was his birthday and I had to buy him a gift and when I was signing the card, I don't know should I put sincerely, Menosh or love, Menosh. And it was like the biggest dilemma and it doesn't seem like a really big deal right now but it was such a huge deal. Like, what do I say, but I think I ended up saying love, Menosh.

APPL

Yes, I came across the card the other day and it's a really nice message of you're a really nice person, I think you're great, Sincerely, Menosh. Sincerely, what? What does this mean?

APPL

But I think that's when I realized, like my God, I like this guy. So that was when I knew.

MS. GINZY LAMPRECHT

My husband is Mark Dosch and he's from Silver Spring, Md.

MR. MARK DOSCH

This is Ginzy Lamprecht otherwise known Virginia Lamprecht, who is has completely enchanted me for 17 years. I went one night over to Nanny O'Briens, which is a nice little pub. It was September 25th of 1996 and...

LAMPRECHT

And, well, it was September 25th, 1995.

DOSCH

You're right, '95. And soon a young woman came in. She had just really long, thick curly hair that was luxuriant, you know, just super full and I love lots of hair.

LAMPRECHT

And out of the corner of my eye I saw this gorgeous man and he was sitting between two friends of mine. So I said, well, I'm just going to hang out here for a while. And as our conversation continued, I realized that I might be meeting someone really, really important. And I was heading out and I think Mark asked me if I wanted a ride home and I thought to myself, hmm, usually don't allow people to drive me home from bars but I said, okay, you can drive me home. And then before I got out of the car he had his hand on the stick shift and we interlaced hands.

DOSCH

We interlaced fingers.

LAMPRECHT

And I felt this almost electricity and I felt...

DOSCH

Something electric happened just in that simple gesture and if I was to say when I fell in love, that was the point, and I'll never forget it.

SHEIR

Those were members of WAMU's public insight network or PIN, speaking with "Metro Connection's" Raphaella Bennin. And if you missed our shout out about PIN earlier in the show, you can get more information and become a member at metroconnection.org/pin.

SHEIR

And that's "Metro Connection" for this week. We heard from WAMU's Jonathan Wilson, Sabri Ben-Achour, Emily Friedman, Jerad Walker and Raphaella Bennin. Our acting news director is Meymo Lyons. Our managing producer is Tara Boyle. Lauren Landau is our editorial assistant. Our intern is Raphaella Bennin. Jonna McKone, Lauren Landau and Raphaella Bennin produce "Door to Door." Thanks, as always, to the WAMU engineering and digital media teams for their help with production and the "Metro Connection" website.

SHEIR

Our theme song, ''Every Little Bit Hurts" and our "Door to Door" theme "No, Girl," and our theme for "The Location," "Turn Your Face," are from the album "Title Tracks" by John Davis and used with permission of the Ernest Jennings Record Company. You can see all the music we use on our website, metroconnection.org. Just click on a story and you'll find information about its accompanying song.

SHEIR

Also on metroconnection.org you can find our Twitter and Facebook links, you can read free transcripts of stories and if you missed part of today's show you can hear the whole thing by clicking the "this week on "Metro Connection"" link. To hear our most recent episodes click the podcast link or find us on iTunes. We hope you can join us next week when we'll dive into a pretty big topic these days, diplomacy. We'll check out D.C.'s ambassadorial real estate and in the heat of election season we'll meet people trying to be more diplomatic in political debates with family and friends. Plus, we'll jam with embassy workers who've begun moonlighting as hard rocking musicians.

MAN

Their countries, their problems, there going to be always problems but that's our job as well, to have a better, safer and peaceful world in harmony.

SHEIR

I'm Rebecca Sheir and thanks for listening to "Metro Connection," a production of WAMU 88.5 news.
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