Thursday, November 08, 2007

Jewel Boutique will close its doors on Christmas Eve

After photographing the "Reading of the Names" Veterans Day Opening Ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial I'd walk north along 17th Street with plans of stopping in at 1718 M Street to pick a package of Prisoner Art Holiday Cards. When passing the Corcoran and observing Occasions Caterers and Perfect Settings unloading trucks I could not help but reflect on the many times that, over the years, I had catered events there.

Though I love and am a 'natural' for catering, my heart sank as I flashed back to the racism that I experienced. I spoke to the older black gentleman who has been on the Corcoran's security staff for many years. And told the guys unloading the Occasions truck to say hello to owners Mark and Eric, for me.

Never do I walk pass the Corcoran nor many such places throughout Washington DC that do I not reflect on catering. Nor flashback to the racism that I experienced.

I took a few photos of the Annie Leibovitz billboard display on 17th near E Street and then continued north to New York Avenue. Leibovitz is amongst my favorite photographers. As I passed the steps at the front entrance to the Corcoran a middle aged white couple asked where the nearest subway was.

"Which line and what direction are you heading?" I inquired. They mentioned somewhere in Arlington. I told them to walk north on 17th Street ... past the tall red building and one block north, on the right is where they'd find the orange line at Farragut West Station.

While 17th Street in the Dupont Circle area has been an ongoing theme since 1992, in recent months I have embarked on a project which spans 17th Street from Independence Avenue, SW, near the Tidal Basin to W Street, NW.

North of Massachsetts Avenue is referred to as "17th Street - Dupont Circle" and south of Massachusetts Avenue to I Street is "17th Street - Golden Triangle". Though H Street may should be the dividing street, south of I to New York Avenue is referred to as "17th Street - Lafayette Square". And for the purpose of my 17th Street Project, I have coined New York Avenue to Independence Avenue as "17th Street - Ellipse / National Mall".

Not too pleased with the images from the evening before, I took a few more photos of the banner hanging from the Corcoran facade at 17th and New York Avenue before continuing north on 17th.

Since several of the buildings on the west side of 17th Street in the block between New Avenue and F Street are government offices while I am less concerned about photographing the Old Executive Office which is on the east side of 17th Street I am always cautious about photographing the west side of that stretch of 17th Street.

However, I could not pass up the opportunity to capture the call box at the corner of 17th and F Street, paying special attention to the graffiti as part of my Fall 2007 Writings on the Wall Project. Which I have photographed several times, in the past, in connection with my ongoing Police & Fire Call Boxes Project.

When passing the street vendor on 17th near Pennsylvania Avenue who I have observed for many years, I said "Hello!". He spoke back.

Crossing Pennsylvania Avenue I contemplated photographing the windows of Pot Belly, as I have done on several occasions in recent months but did not observe any 'subject' sitting in the window that caught my attention. I contemplated stopping in at McDonalds situated between Pennsylvania Avenue and H Street but when I flashed back to the 4 July 2006 incident, in a similar way that I did not go inside of the Corcoran to say hello to former catering associates ... I continued north on 17th.

There are few places that I can now go in WDC that I do not experience flashbacks, pertaining to racism. 17th Street is no exception.

At the corner of 17th and H, I took several shots of Lafayette Tower which, under construction, I have phtographed several times in recent months. And, while waiting for the traffic light to change, at 17th and H, and reflecting on the many times, over the years, that I had catered at the Executive Dining Room at the Riggs Bank Headquarters ... my heart sunk.

Prior to the 2005 PNC take-over and located between H and and I Streets, NW, the 800 17th Street Building was the Riggs Bank Headquarters. Observing some months ago that the building across the street had been demolished to make way for the Lafayette Tower which, of course, I photographed, when on Tuesday evening that I observed "STORE CLOSING - BUILDING COME DOWN" signs posted to the windows of Jewel Boutique I realized that the west side of the 800 block of 17th Street will soon undergo redevelopment, as well.

Though I contemplated photographing the Jewel Boutique's store front on Tuesday evening, reflecting on the fact, that as a black male, I must be extremely cautious about photographing store windows and, in particular, jewelry stores ... having just photographed the Music & Poetry Tribute at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial I was 'not in the mood' for any additional amount of racist overseein' of me and my photography.

On the subway home I thought myself, since the weather is getting cold, I may not have the opportunity to capture the last days of the Jewel Boutique which would be an important addition to my Here Today. Gone Tomorrow Historiographic Project.

Having photographed Tuesday's Music & Poetry Tribute at the Wall which launched the 2007 week long Veterans Day commemoration at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and before it got too cold or rainy for me to come out I made sure to visit The Wall for the Wednesday, 07 November "Reading of the Names" Opening Ceremony.

This time, when passing by the Jewel Boutique I did not pass up the opportunity of capturing its last days. And, as is my pratice, in cases of ewelry stores, I stepped inside to inform the staff of my ongoing intests in Windows of the World and 17th Street and the documentation of businesses and buidings for Here Today. Gone Tomorrow.

While the older white lady behind the counter and nearest to the door was very cautious and suspcious of me I found the younger white man to be very appreciative of my interests. When I inquired as to when the store would be closing, his response was "24 December!".

According a sign situated on the sidewalk, in front of Jewel Boutique, all jewelry is 25 to 70% off. Here are one or two examples.

Though the store does not have a website I was able to find some pertinent info on the internet not only pertaining to the name of current owner ( Eric Cameron) of the watch and repair operation whose history dates back to 1963. But, of particular importance to me, one or two links regarding PNC's plans for redevelopment of the block.

In a 21 June 2007 press release issued by PNC Financial Group entitled PNC and Vornado/Charles E. Smith Announce New 350,000 Sq. Ft. Development in Washington's Central Business District an excerpts reads as follows:

"The new headquarters building will accommodate PNC’s Greater Washington headquarters, the regional staff of PNC business lines, a PNC Bank branch, other office tenants, retail space, a concourse level and two levels of parking. Located just 1,500 feet from the White House, the development will aggregate three parcels now occupied by buildings at 800 and 808 17th St. and 1707 H St. NW. Market demand in Washington for well-located, large, superior-quality commercial buildings is strong and growing."

Located at 808 17th Street in NW Washington DC, you have until Christmas Eve, 24 December 2007, to take advantage of the Jewel Boutique Store Closure - Building Coming Down Sale. Telephone at (202) 338-0172.

Waiting on the Farragut West Station platform for the next orange or blue line train in the direction of L'Enfant Plaza I remembered my recent posting pertaining to the closure of Candey Hardware Store.

When aboard the orange / blue line train en route to L'Enfant Plaza from Farragut West that I remembered the conversation on Monday evening between a longtime female black friend and I regarding the disparities between her black daughters and her black sons and as I reflected on the impact that racism has had on my life, as a black male, through the flashbacks that I had just experienced moments before, when walking north along 17th Street that I would pass the Corcoran and former Riggs Bank Headquarters, and as I had told my old friend a few nights before - I had no doubt in my mind of the importance of my Fall 2007 motto and chant which is 'The Creation of New Memories!".

I, strongly, suggest that other black men who may have had similar experiences as I ... to "... create new memories!"

Click the above photo to view my Jewel Boutique FLICKR photo set.

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