Sunday, September 18, 2005


Welcome to the Growlery! This blog will be a rumination on life in Alexandria, Virginia's historic Parker-Gray District where the Growler has lived for more than a quarter century

A word of explanation about the term “growlery.” It comes from one of the Curmudgeon’s favorite authors, Charles Dickens.

"Sit down, my dear,” said Mr Jarndyce. “This, you must know, is the growlery. When I am out of humour, I come and growl here.”

“You must be here very seldom, sir,” said I.

“O, you don’t know me!” he returned. “When I am deceived or disappointed in — the wind, and it’s Easterly, I take refuge here. The Growlery is the best used room in the house. You are not aware of half my humours yet.” (Bleak House, Chapt. 8)

The Easterly ill-wind in the Parker-Gray neighborhood is wafting in from the vicinity of City Hall and it is high time someone was doing a little growling about it.The recent controversy over the condo conversion at 1210 Queen Street sent the Cranky One to the Growlery many times in the last few months. But the Growler was not alone. Quite a few others, it turned out, felt the same way about the Queen Street project. And the Growler was even more interested to find that neighbors are hungry for information about what our City fathers and mothers are doing with – or to – this area. It certainly isn’t forthcoming from the civic association.

This blog will take a slightly different approach than the usual rants that fill the bandwidth. The Growler will try to think like a journalist and emulate one of the heroes of the Growler's Jurassic-era youth.

I.F. “Izzy” Stone, the great investigative journalist and the founder of the iconic publication “I.F. Stone Weekly,” was an outspoken and influential critic of government during the 60s. He didn’t meet sources in parking garages or conduct ambush interviews. Stone dug through public documents and newspapers to build damning evidence of government misdeeds. While the Growler doesn’t have targets as big as Lyndon Johnson or issues as pivotal as the Vietnam War, nor is the City government likely tainted by gross corruption, but there are some troubling things going on that merit attention.

The Growler likes to prowl through places like libraries and courts, not to mention the Internet. A beady eye will be cast on public hearing dockets and reports, civil and criminal cases in the Alexandria courts and elsewhere, IRS Form 990s, federal bankruptcy records, and lots of other nooks and crannies to expose the real dynamics of politics in Parker-Gray.

Above all, the Growler will address money and cronyism in this blog. Money is the driving force for much of what is going on in the Parker-Gray District now, more than religion, more than politics, more than race or class, although all of these elements may be called upon as surrogates to disguise the fundamental moving force of greed. Cronyism is simply the effort of one or more persons with influence to promote the interests of a few -- who can reciprocate the favor -- at the expense of the many.

What does the Growler want?

* Open and honest government

* Accountability and responsiveness of elected and appointed leaders

* Fair and equitable treatment of all citizens

* Development that is thoughtful, appropriate and respectful of history

* Attention to the quality of life in our neighborhoods

There you have it. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr ……