Speaking of the Orioles

I like Camden Yards, the first in a wave of fan-friendly, architecturally impressive ballparks that have swept baseball over the past decade. Boog Powell's BBQ is not bad (it's no Fat Matt's, but still fun to eat at a game).

The team itself is awful. Worst... farm system... ever. They got nuthin'... and they've done nuthin' since 1997. It's funny to see the O's website describe their 1998 season as a "transition year" (the transition being from "good" to "awfulness"). Last year they went 4-32 at the end of the season. Wow.

Maybe if they keep sucking, and people stay away from the ballpark, owner Peter Angelos can cry poverty and keep a team away from Washington. Or, maybe nobody buys that.

Either way, it looks like the wet blankets in Arlington will whine and whine about putting something fun and/or interesting here:

"I challenge anyone to tell me what the true benefits for Arlington are," said Sarah Summerville, the director of Arlingtonians for Baseball in D.C., a group that has rallied to stop the ballpark's construction.

Gee, I don't know Sarah... maybe so there's something to F***ING DO HERE? Heaven forbid we should build something INTERESTING that people who live here will USE and ENJOY! Not that I don't love hanging around outside the Pentagon, or checking out the sewage station on Four Mile Run Creek. And wow, that Teddy Roosevelt island... with the giant statue of Teddy Roosevelt, scarily extending his arms in some kind of faux hug... well, frankly I could spend every WAKING HOUR looking at that.

No, in Arlington we apparently cannot handle the breakneck excitement that is baseball. A shock to many of you, I'm sure.
Tractor Driver In Standoff With Police on Mall (washingtonpost.com)

Oftentimes, protesters descend on Washington to exercise their First Amendment rights. Unfortunately, many of their tactics simply disrupt the lives of ordinary Washington citizens, while doing nothing to advance their causes. Case in point.

District Held Liable In Death of Youth (washingtonpost.com)

God help you if the District's government is put in charge of you. Survival rates are low (and D.C. loses truckloads of money in various negligence lawsuits every year).
Zoo Confronts Backlog on Maintenance (washingtonpost.com)

Animals are dying at the National Zoo... Washington is no longer safe for humans or animals.

How D.C. cops scheme to take your car

This was one of the first news stories I read upon moving here. It's a classic "We're not in Kansas anymore" moment.
No baseball for you

March 31, 2003. Baseball's opening day. A day to skip work, soak in the sun, grab a hot dog, enjoy a ballgame.

Oh, but we don't have a team. Seems that D.C. had two versions of the Senators, and couldn't convince either one to stay in town (the first version became the Twins, the second the Rangers). I used to go to at least 15 Braves games a year; now, the closest team is the awful Orioles, and it takes two hours to get there in traffic from Virginia.

It's just as well, seeing as how it's snowing. Kill me now.


September 10, 2001: the last good day

I will always remember September 10, 2001.

It was a nice day here. My wife and I took the Metro down to the national Mall, had a picnic, tossed the frisbee around.

That night I stayed up late looking for a job. I had been at it for months, but had not even gotten a response letter from any of the companies I had sent resumes to, which was now approaching 100. I had had a technical writing job in Atlanta that I had to leave in order to move, and leaving that job was looking more and more like a mistake, as I got more and more frustrated. After sending out more resumes to companies listed on washingtonjobs.com, a completely useless jobs site run by the Washington Post, and apparently populated by fake jobs postings, I crept to bed at 3 a.m. I awoke at 9:30 the next morning, unaware at the turmoil the country was going through. As I sat on our couch, scanning the Post for more jobs, we got a phone call asking if we were OK; because a plane had crashed into the Pentagon, about five miles away from our new home.

Shocked, we turned on the news, and couldn't turn it off for the next six hours. We watched in horror as the Twin Towers collapsed; as the Pentagon burned down the road; as reports came in of a doomed flight in rural Pennsylvania; as CNN reported that the national Mall was on fire (I don't know if they were held responsible for airing this).

After a few hours we had to just stop watching and do something else. We took a break for a few hours by unpacking some of our stuff still in boxes, and building bookshelves we had bought. Eventually I went back to watching the news as the networks theorized who was responsible for the terrorist attacks. I couldn't sleep that night when I went to bed; having flown on what must be nearly 100 flights myself, the images of what the passengers on those planes had to go through kept playing in my mind. What would be next? Were we safe moving to and living in a city that's clearly a prime target for terrorism? Why did they have to hate us so much?

I was startled that night by shouting in the parking lot, it turned out to be just a druken man getting carted away to the drunk tank. But it frightened me that night nonetheless.

What frightened me more was having to fly later that month. My friends and I had been planning our semi-annual trip to Las Vegas for months, and I'd booked a flight already. The night before I had to fly I didn't sleep at all. The images of the terrified hijacked passengers persisted in my mind. The flight was quiet and uneventful, although I think everyone was on edge, flying so soon after 9/11.

Eventually I was able to get over the emotional stress and get on with my life. Washington may never recover; fear has gripped the city ever since. Postal workers were killed by anthrax in the mail; ordinary citizens were gunned down by a sniper. It all makes living here like living in a horror movie.
Why "Why I Hate DC?"

I've lived in Arlington, VA since August 2001. My wife and I moved here from Atlanta, after she decided to pursue a master's degree, so we moved to Arlington, a close-in suburb of Washington, D.C.

I could tell that any chance of happiness in Washington for me was doomed from the start. Driving up to D.C., I was first introduced to the Washington highway infrastructure, which is apparently designed to confuse the fuck out of me. Driving north on the George Washington Parkway, I quickly learned that the 40 m.p.h. speed limit is actually more of a speed "suggestion." Sixty m.p.h. is more the norm, which would be fine, if the Parkway wasn't so confusing for newcomers. I missed the left exit for Spout Run Parkway, so we decided to turn around and catch it going the other way. Sadly, the exit isn't available going to other way. No problem, I figure, just get off at the next exit and turn around again. The next exit is for Key Bridge, which doesn't allow you to turn around. So I was forced over Key Bridge into Georgetown, which is not a place you want to take your car. Ever. After finally getting through the traffic light at M Street, and turning around on some weird cobblestone road, we made our way back to the parkway and missed its entrance ramp. Fortunately we lucked into finding the right road, Lee Highway, and were able to find our way from there.

My reward for escaping the infinite loop of being lost in Washington? Getting to feast my eyes on the Revolutionary War-era building that is our apartment: "Howard Manor" (emphasis on the quote marks). Nestled cosily next to I-66, and within convenient walking distance of both a skanky-looking 7-Eleven AND a psychic palm reader, our building is a lovely... um... cube of bricks. They broke the mold when they made this place: squeaky hardwood floors, tiny kitchen with no dishwasher, three pairs of oft-broken washers and dryers in the basement of the building next door, an electrical system with those ancient round fuses, and... best of all... door that DON'T ACTUALLY CLOSE. Some of the doorways are crooked; others have been painted so many times that they will never close properly ever again.

How much would YOU pay for a dream apartment like this? But wait, don't answer yet, there's more. The building has no actual heat. Oh, there are "radiators" that supposedly channel heat from the boiler downstairs. But there are not effective, and there's no way to increase the flow of heat. This is especially fun when the temperature drops to 20 degrees outside. Did I say fun? I meant blow me, apartment.

Top it all off with what I'm finding to be typical Washington residents: surly people who would rather fuck an ice pick rather than make eye contact with a stranger... and you have a masterpiece of tenement living, all for just $1,035 a month. And granted, this is an apartment within five minutes of D.C.'s border, within walking distance of Metro... but over $1,000? A friend of mine lives on Biscayne Bay in Miami for as much or less in a nicer apartment. Our previous apartment in Atlanta was similarly situated, but nicer (with appliances) and bigger, for less rent. I wouldn't mind it so much if our current apartment was up to modern living standards or a vibrant neighborhood. It is neither.

Even if I had wanted to move into a nicer apartment in August '01, there's no way we could afford it in a decent location in Washington on (at the time) no income, just our savings. We may move into a smaller place soon, although the rest of our moving adventure keeps us from wanting to move ever again. This has nothing to do with D.C., but the moving company we used, Miami-based "Advanced Moving Systems", arrived three weeks later than they were supposed to, would not answer the phone or return our calls, and charged us twice what they quoted us in their estimate (something like $3,500 instead of $1,750). You can find out more stuff about them on the web (apparently they were arrested for fraud recently; big surprise). I hope, and I mean this in the most sincere possible way, that they all die from SARS.

So, here we are, living off our savings in a shitty, expensive apartment. We've given a good chunk of money to the movers. And I have no job in a declining job market (despite having looked for one for several months prior to moving here). But at least I live in the nation's capital, right? A famous, vibrant city, with lots of fabulous sights to see and things to do, right? Blah.
Created blog on 3/28/2003. This blog will contain the various reasons I hate living in Washington, D.C. There may be no rhyme or reason to my rantings, and likely no suggestion for how to solve the problems I have with the city and metro area. Frankly, my dear, suck on it.