“Hell” Squirrel Nut Zippers/Streetlight Manifesto

“This is a place where eternally
Fire is applied to the body
Teeth are extruded and bones are ground
Then baked into cakes which are passed around”-Tom Maxwell “Hell”

Here is Streetlight Manifesto’s cover.

I thought this nifty stanza from “Hell” by the Squirrel Nut Zippers was a very clever choice of words. Not only is the song juxtaposition of horror, providing haunting atmosphere, there is an interesting us of imagery: words like “extruded”, “bones” and “ground”. The way that it is written almost romanticizes the meaning sugar-coating the setting by suggesting “cake”.  In the context of “Now you make the scene all day but tomorrow there’ll be hell to pay,” this is even more interesting.I cannot explain much else, other than it being an intriguing association of a groove with a groove to add to the listening experience.

Streetlight’s Anti-Suicide Song. It’s also has another positive message.

“And when you wake up
everything is going to be fine
I guarantee that you wake up in a better place
in a better time
so you’re tired of living
and you feel like you might give in
well don’t
it’s not your time”-Thomas Kalnoky. “A Better Place A  Better Time”

This song has been one of my absolute favorite songs for a while, not only because of Toh Kay’s soft folksy solo project and his album art choice but his smart use of lyrics. I noticed that each phrase in this stanza is simple and loving but not ‘sappy’. I like that it does not use any excessively romantic words to convey a sense of hope. Instead, Thomas uses the words “better” to suggest a possibility of improving from where the audience is at the current moment, and nicely shows compassion through “so you’re tired of living…well don’t”. Standing alone, this could be brotherly, to a friend instead of necessarily being romantic. Honestly only in relation to “Annie” and the pronouns “her” and “she”, is there any suggestion of a romance. I were to replace the words with a reference to friend, as in “he once said”, the meaning would change. A hopeful phrase like “so you’re tired of living you feel like you might give in” is as romantic or platonic as the listener wants it to be.

Commonplace 13: LGBTQ on 14th

“And with Whitman-Walker’s new facility comes a boost in the services they provide. The new building features 28 medical exam rooms, nine dental suites, a concierge, health and wellness suites, physical therapy, and, at the ground level, an expanded pharmacy. Among the services that 1525 will continue to offer are primary medical care, psychiatry, pharmacy, mental health and addiction counseling, dental care, legal services, HIV counseling and testing, and more.”-Cohen, Matt. “Whitman-Walker Opens New, Sleek Headquarters On 14th Street.”dcist.com 5 Jun 2015

This piece right here is a very good example of positive change on 14th street. I see that there are many things that residents have had to adapt to in the city, and for some, the LGBTQ acceptance would have been very uncomfortable. However, the fact that there is a whole medical business dedicated to the AIDS crisis, screams progress. I like this because my site is a reflection of transition, and adaptation. Without specific representations of progress, we would not be paying as much reverence as we to DC we do today, had it only been the capital alone. However, I would like to know of any consequences, the city has faced in response to WW’s work.

LGBTQ,AIDS/HIV, and Diversity on 14th street NW, Washington DC


Cohen, Matt. “Whitman-Walker Opens New, Sleek Headquarters On 14th Street.”dcist.com, 5 Jun 2015.

In his piece, Matt Ohen recognizes Whitman-Walker as “D.C.’s leading provider of HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ care and services” and a “pillar” of 14th  Street culture to elaborate upon their expansion to a new location. He then continues to provide background on how the center has been crucial to providing services during the AIDS crisis of the 80’s and 90’s, and how this has contributed to the overall climate of LGBTQ acceptance in DC. Ohen explains that plans for their new facility will include some very appealing new amenities. The question, however, will be concerning their oldest facility, the Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center. Ohen hints at plans to “redevelop” the facility. Uniquely, this would not mean what it usually does, the facility will no be destroyed or replaced. Instead, it may mean housing or other resources for the LGBTQ community.


I plan to use this source as an exhibit of why 14th Street NW, represents DC’s progressive and diverse culture, and how it continues to expand. The recognition of the common progress throughout the city is almost more important than the city’s preservation. Only under the circumstances of the city improving economically would Whitman-Walker have had the resources to succeed in their work as a health provider, catalyzing support for LGBTQ rights as time moved forward. Following this progress, we should not forget the negative repercussions that have come with some of the overall changes on 14th Street, NW, and D.C as a whole. This represents one of the most prominent social revolutions that the area has seen since it has begun to improve economically.


Cohen, Matt. “Whitman-Walker Opens New, Sleek Headquarters On 14th Street.”dcist.com 5 Jun 2015 The New Whitman-Walker health facility.


Tavernise, Sabrina. “A Population Changes, Uneasily.”nytimes.com, 17 July 2011. 

In her Washington Journal piece published in the New York Times, Tavernise argues that DC is losing its signature African-American community.In other words, she sees that the advent of gentrification has made D.C much nicer to live in, in a lot of ways. As a result, she points out that there have also been some unfortunate consequences including the increase in property values, the driving out of low-income families, tax increases, small businesses closing down, and a loss of the original culture. She does address that there may be more diversity now than ever before. However, the bulk of the changes in the last 20-30 years has not been completely beneficial for large groups of people. On the other hand, she does recognize those who were able to continue to survive and thrive through the circumstances, recognizing the attitude of some local businesses to sell what people “want to buy”. The overall message is that D.C has changed in ways that many greatly resent, but it was the ways in which people have learned to adapt to these changes, and not in the city’s preservation that has driven progress.

This piece provides a more holistic view of the city. This document takes a collection of many diverse viewpoints to create a well-developed wider narrative of the city. This is unique because most of the most current DC literature has some kind of audience to pander to, and as result provides a limited narrative. Applied to 14th Street NW, this relationship of facts and experiences will provide all of the necessary evidence to describe this narrative of change in D.C. as a whole.Tavernise synthesizes a variety of other viewpoints to emphasize this.

A run-down restaurant frontTavernise, Sabrina “A Population Changes, Uneasily.”nytimes.com 17 July 2011

More People Watching. A Broader Look At The People Located On 14th Street, NW




Some folk walking on 14th Street NW, DC.

In order to observe more information about those who occupy 14th NW, I documented the type of people who walked along the sidewalk.More specifically, the style of clothing that most of these people were wearing appeared more reflective of current day D.C than anything that would have been worn 20-30 years ago, likely purchased from some of the big-box store suppliers (H&M, American Eagle, Old Navy etc.), that would have become more present in more recent years than in earlier years of the city.I would also observe that there is some diversity in the crowds of people, just as I pointed out earlier. A brief overview of common ways in which Washingtonians carried themselves and their modern vernacular would be interesting.

Older Architecture? NOT A High-Rise?


What looks to be older architecture, preserved–14th street, NW, Washington DC

One of the most important parts of mapping the social and political, as well as economic change in DC, and on 14th  Street NW, is the expression of architecture.Based the relationships of different building aesthetics alone, there is a lot we can tell about D.C. Including historical context, we can address what kind of values the city has represented in these choices over time, as well as what this has done for those occupying the area. For example, some parts of the city may have taken on a more romantic faux-victorian look, while others may have gone for a ‘hipster’ appearance, with pseudo-vintage design qualities.In this example, I see some buildings that appear to be left alone in a lot of ways. This is unique in relation to all of the larger new looking buildings in the area, which is very interesting; I would like to know more.

People Watching. I’d Like to Look Into What Types Of People Are Here And Why.


An example of people sitting outside at Le Diplomate. 14th street NW, Washington DC

DC has in recent years become known for its ethnic, and cultural diversity.In this example I chose to document the types of people I was seeing at Le Diplomate, one of the most famous restaurants on 14th Street NW. On the surface, the diversity is definitely there.However, with some background knowledge of 14th Street, NW,this could say a number of things about who wants to, are able to live in the area, as well as the many who choose to visit. Knowing that as property values have gone up over the years, only a small group of well-to-do people would be able to live in the area.DC is also more accessible than ever before. There is more accessible transportation, and a wide range of employment opportunities that have allowed for more traffic and diversity. There may still be gross income inequality DC, but this example does show some progress.

Liberal DC? Hmm.

Taylor Medical center, 14th street NW, flying LGBTQ flag.

One of the most outstanding points of political progress in DC, has been its civil rights efforts. I was found especially intriguing to spot at the Elizabeth Taylor Medical center,14th  Street NW, an LGBTQ flag.  Not everyone would necessarily agree with all of the changes that DC has gone through. With more background on who Whitman-Walker were during the 80s-90s, and what they continue to do for the LGBTQ community, I was able to understand that this health center and Whitman-Walker Health were crucial to conquering the AIDS/HIV epidemic. Because of their efforts among others, same-sex couples can be seen openly holding hands.

Political: Mapping the Ways in Which 14th street/DC Has Changed Over Time and Why.


A very large, modern looking building on 14th street. Appears to be a result of gentrification.

A very large, modern looking building on 14th Street. Appears to be a result of gentrification.One of the first things I wanted to document was anything that reflected the most obvious change in the city, and its political implications. The most obvious example of the city having been shaped to a newer audience are the modern looking, high-rises, and complexes that are typically condos/apartments, but may be stores or other businesses.  This could imply that just a few decades ago, and even more recently–the city has not necessarily preserved the old. Politically speaking, this could mean many different things about the people here. This is because in order for there to have been these improvements, usually there would have had to have been more money brought into the city. This would would imply that there would be new cultural changes, and more diverse points of view shaping the ideological climate of the city. As a consequence those who lived in the area before, may have been driven out.


“Somewhere in the Between”by Streetlight Manifesto and the positive message

“You were gone when we found you
You were practically surrounded, you were trapped
But the opposition stalled, their blood ran cold
When they saw the look of love in your eyesMaybe the times we had, they weren’t that bad
And everything else was part of the plan
We sang: “I don’t know where we go from here”
This is the alpha, omega, beginning and the end
And we all just idolize the deadSo you were born, and that was a good day
Someday you’ll die, and that is a shame
But somewhere in the between was a life of which we all dream
And nothing and no one will ever take that away

You had a love and that love had you
And nothing mattered, you were fine
And some will complain, they’re just bitter, what a shame
They know that loving and losing is better than nothing at all

Maybe the times we had, they weren’t that bad
And everything else was part of our path
We sang: “I don’t know where we go from here”
This is the anthem, the slogan, the summary of events
And we all just idealize the past

So you were born, and that was a good day
Someday you’ll die, and that is a shame
But somewhere in the between was a life of which we all dream
And nothing and no one will ever take that away

Maybe the times we had, they weren’t that bad
And everything else was part of the plan
We sang: “I don’t know where we go from here”
This is the alpha, omega, beginning and the end
And we all just idolize the dead

So you were born, and that was a good day
Someday you’ll die, and that is a shame
But somewhere in the between was a life of which we all dream
And nothing and no one will ever take that away

And someday soon my friends, this ride will come to an end
But we can’t just get in line again” By Streetlight manifesto

I really like this song because it is very well written, and seems to have different meanings. The beginning of the passage sounds romantic, but in the context of everything else, it could also be a number of love implications that may include friendship, and familial. I loved the way that it reminds us of the inevitable while, reminding us that there will be fulfilling life, in spite of all the little crap that happens along the way. The message seems to be more of a perspective-taking song, more than a romantic love song–even though it seems to be implying a romantic undertone with “you were gone when we found you”, almost implying that sort of saving grace romance cliche.  I would also say that the phrase “you had a love and that love had you” does not necessarily imply romance, more than it implies a love in the sense of happiness with one’s self or a love for the world as a whole. I like that from the romantic point of view, it does imply the “you” to be the reason “opposition stalled, their blood ran cold
When they saw the look of love in your eyes”. Instead of implying that, assuming “you” is a woman, she was such a loving person that she was able to hold her own through kindness. I would also take the word “love” to its most universal meaning and have it describe friendship. I would say as far as structure, with this being an upbeat ska-punk tune; there seems to be an emphasis on both rhyme, but also creating emphasis through the repetition of the first word in some of the phrases. In addition to the delivery of lyrics through the shouting, the structure plays an important role in creating this sweet hearted, relieving mood within the context of the music.