Some stuff

1. Police brutality. A woman who was talking loudly on her cell phone outside at a Metro station, and possibly using profanity, ignored a Metro cop's request to quiet down. Naturally, this being Metro, the officer took the only reasonable action available to him and forced her to the ground and handcuffed her.

Bonus points: she's five months pregnant.

Metro's spokespeople, being customer-centric, of course, immediately and profusely apologized.

"We need better enforcement to allow people to know we are serious and want to maintain the high-quality level of the system," said Robert J. Smith, chairman of the Metro board, adding that "ranting youth" have become a plague on the subway. "This isn't Montana. We live in a very dense region, and people are on top of each other all the time."

Smith, who refuses to carry a cell phone, said he thinks Metro riders need to use the devices with care. "We wouldn't allow someone to come into the U.S. Capitol Rotunda and shout obscenities into a cell phone," he said.
So, of course, the cop treats her like he just found out she was the one mailing anthrax to people back in '01.

Seriously, why not do something about the drunk and/or crazy guys who ride the train, shouting in a random yet threatening manner at the other riders, thus scaring the crap out of them? I swear that's happened to me, like, five times. A woman talking loudly on her cell phone, outside of the train? For Metro, that's refreshingly benign.

2. No more Visions. The erstwhile cinema-slash-bistro-slash-lounge, which only did one of those three things well (lounge), is closing soon, or maybe has already closed. Tens of college students, who loved watching the vastly overrated Donnie Darko on a small screen at the end of a long, narrow theater with bad sound, are weeping into their Smirnoff Ices.

Close the book on Visions. It was a good place for people who need to feel cool, but not a good place to actually watch a movie. They did ocassionally get some super-obscure things, but overall, Bruce Springsteen's new E Street Theater is much better.

3. We're still on Orange Alert in D.C. Anybody know why? Ohhh, because the terror alert levels are bullshit? You don't say.

4. D.C. may get baseball, but at a huge cost. Make the team pay for it, like with the new ballpark in San Francisco. The team is who reaps all the financial benefit, anyway; the economic impact of baseball will in no way offset the property acquisition/building costs.

Then again, D.C., much like America itself, has to maintain its ghetto rich attitude. "I want lots of cool stuff, but I don't want to have to pay for it... right now."

5. Juvenile homicides way up in D.C. But, like the rest of suburban fantasyland, the less I think about it, the less upset I get. Problem solved!


Of course!

Why not? Part 1.

Why not elect Marion Barry? Why not make D.C. look like a laughing stock again? The city had only just started to recover from his reign of terror as mayor. So yeah, let's just bring his ass back.

How long until he's caught smoking crack again? Over-under: 1 year from now. Place your bets.

Why not? Part 2.

Why not repeal the D.C. gun ban?

I mean, sure, it's not anything that anybody in the District wants. And also, the murder rate had just started to decline, thanks to better policing.

But hey, who knows what's better for D.C., after all? The residents of the city? Or a bunch of sheltered, self-important, white Republicans representing non-urban areas?

Good job, Republicans. You take up that white man's burden. Repeal that handgun ban that D.C. residents instituted. Remove the prohibition against semiautomatic weapons. Remove registration requirements for ammunition and other firearms. Cancel those criminal penalities for carrying unregistered guns. That will solve everything. YOU'RE SO MOTHERFUCKING SMART. WHAT A FUCKING GREAT IDEA. THANK YOU SO VERY, VERY GODDAMNED MUCH.

Also, while you're at it, I suggest going one step further and allowing guns to be carried into Congress. It's a crime against freedom that American citizens can't carry a handgun into the House of Representatives... to protect themselves, of course. I'm sure nothing bad could possibly come of that, either.


Kurtz Got Served

This is an utterly brilliant opinion piece by Rick Mercier of the Fredricksburg Free-Lance Star. It's about the Post, and its recent non-apology apology for totally fellating the President during its coverage of the run-up to Operation Iraqi Quagmire.

A free press is supposed to question what a government is trying to spoonfeed it, not simply assume that leaders are credible and that their claims about the designated enemy are beyond scrutiny.


[Post media reporter Howard] Kurtz provides no help with these questions. He patronizes readers with platitudes about the basic tenets of journalism, but leaves them wondering how in the world the Post arrived at its conclusions about whom it could trust...
Nailed it. Absolutely stuck the landing. The judges are loving it. That's exactly what Kurtz's opinion piece was: patronizing.

I'm not the type to trot out the "read the whole thing" cliche, but I do think that, if you're a reporter or editor, you should print out this article and tack it to your forehead. Text-side facing in.

We haven't quite mastered the light bulb yet

D.C. is the least well-lit of all the big cities I've visited. For whatever reason, there just isn't a whole lot of emphasis on street lighting; even in densely populated and re-gentrified residential areas, where you might expect a lot of auto and foot traffic, the streets stay surprisingly dark.

Of course, in a city plagued by muggings and other street crimes, this only serves to make things that much more creepifying. But the darkness problem seems to have at least been acknowledged. After the high-profile murder of a popular waiter walking home late near Dupont Circle, the National Guard brought bright floodlights into the neighborhood to light it up at all hours. Now, James' new favorite website DCist reports some community activists are trying to get D.C. to be more dilligent in fixing broken street lights, because... and I hope you're sitting down, because this news will rock your world... the city's DOT is not especially responsive when it comes to fixing broken lights.

Clearly, more light at night in dangerous neighborhoods would be a good thing, just as a common-sense safety issue. But this is D.C., where common sense is kidnapped and hunted down for sport on a desolate island with only rocks and a crude slingshot to defend itself. Naturally, we have residents complaining that roads like M Street in Georgetown are too bright.

I'm guessing we don't want to be reminded we live in a real city? Just a guess. Imagine a Manhattanite complaining that 5th Avenue is too bright. They would be openly mocked and told to move to Connecticut. And yet, here we have people arguring that, while brighter streets might save a few lives, the brightness keeps Muffy the poodle awake at night, and we can't have that, because she'll be all cranky in the morning when we take her to the doggy daycare on 18th.

Meanwhile, it's not just D.C. that could use more light. Even my neighborhood gets surprisingly dark at night. Not that my neck of Arlington is dangerous... the only unusual characters in my 'hood appear to be of the non-threatening variety (big shout out to Perpetually Drunk Lady, Confused Shirtless 7-Eleven Guy, and Transvestite Cheerleader Guy). But once you veer away from Lee Highway and into purely residential territory, the few street lights there are low, dim, and far apart.

I'd rather live somewhere that's walkable at night, and where you're encouraged to enjoy what a city has to offer at all hours. But then, if I always got what I wanted, I'd be too busy catching the winning space-touchdown in the Galactic Super Bowl to write this.


Please don't pimp my ride

The headline for this article is "Band of Would-Be Pimps Abducted Women." The kidnappers tried to kidnap prostitutes as a way of horning in on the city's sexual service industry, but, sadly, kidnapped innocent non-hookers at gunpoint from off the street.

Could this happen anywhere else, I ask you, than your nation's capital?

Gonzalez was driven around the District for some time. Eventually, she was forced into the basement of a house in Northwest, where she said Watson screamed, "Who's your pimp, who's your pimp?"

Gonzalez said she pleaded with Watson, telling him that she didn't have a pimp and that she was just visiting her cousin.
Makes you proud to be an American, right?

Am I right?

UPDATE! Oh man, I just thought of the best idea for a movie, involving these guys accidentally kidnapping the Bush twins. I see the Olsen twins as the Bush twins, and Chris Rock in a dual role as the pimps. And also, Anthony Hopkins as the mysterious pimp kingpin. Kingpimp...? Wait, now I think this movie's been done before.

Rated PG for MURDER

Good: D.C. homicides are way down this year.

Bad: They seem to have migrated east to Prince George's County.

Oh no, cave in at the old mine!

Have you ever driven up Georgetown Pike in Langley, Va.? Go north on George Washington Parkway, then south on VA-123, then right on Georgetown Pike.

I highly recommend it, because, seriously... it's like Republican Fantasy Land.

As you drive along 123, it looks more or less like the rest of GW Parkway land; lots of trees, not many buildings. The completely unironically named George Bush Center for Intelligence, where they're so good at digging up slam dunks on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, is down the road. There are occasional side streets into neighborhoods belonging to the likes of progressive everyman Pat Buchanan.

All that's standard-level suburban creepiness for Washington. But the supreme über-creëpiness doesn't kick in until you turn down Georgetown Pike. This is where suburban living is taken to a Stepfordian extreme. In fact, they've somehow managed to cross the line from suburban to exurban. I was driving through rural Pennsylvania a few weeks back, and this was almost exactly like that; a narrow two-lane road, with some up-and-down hillyness. The road is completely covered with trees, so that you can't see any evidence of city living (that includes "dc style") in any direction. There's a general store-slash-gas station with just a couple of pumps. And not "store" in the usual metropolitan mini-mart sense; it's literally a little shack, like you would see driving around in the middle of nowhere. After a while you come upon a big-ass high school, just like they might have in a one-school rural county. The mascot of said high school is, once again completely unironically, the Saxons.

And so, the sheltered suburbanites managed to insulate their community from any signs of urban life. There are no restaurants, supermarkets, theaters, bowling alleys, bars, etc. Nothing fun or vibrant; there are no signs of life, and indeed, no sidewalks. A visitor might, for a second, think he had blacked out and driven all the way to West Virginia, if not for two crucial differences.

1. This isn't the middle of nowhere. It's inside the freaking Beltway.
2. I could afford to live in a rural/exurban community. I will never, ever be able to afford to live on Georgetown Pike in Langley. In fact, if I cloned myself four times, the four of us would still be unable to afford to live there as roommates. (There's an idea for the next Real World.

So, then... what's the point? Why re-create Little House on the Prairie in the middle of a gigantic metropolitan area?

Well, Washington's a disturbing place to live. There is a lot of urban blight. There are real problems throughout the area that these people would rather not be confronted with... crime, extreme poverty, homelessness, neighborhoods that appear to have been hit by a nuclear bomb, etc. And, if you're a Republican, your Fantasy Land does not include such elements. (For these problems would cost money to address, and if something costs money, but doesn't involve, say, bombing Muslims at random, well, it's just not worth doing.)

But conscience is a funny thing. Overpriced city living is great, but driving the SUV around Logan Circle and having to look at all those homeless drug addicts just won't do... it tends to make one uncomfortable. Suburban living, is, I guess, too common and crowded for these people. Thus, Georgetown Pike provides the illusion of rural living, but is priced well out of the league of most people, while still being less than 15 miles away from all the blight and other wonders of D.C.

Everybody wins! Nobody has to be confronted with the realities of failed economic so-and-so whatever. The residents can sleep soundly at night, having convinced themselves of the illusion that they live like the Waltons.

So, yeah, I recommend sightseeing in this neighborhood, if you want to transport yourself to a different place and time. Say hi to Michael Landon for me.

Just one more thing: you'll have to drive. Metro doesn't travel anywhere along Georgetown Pike. (Wouldn't want to give those minorities and drug addicts a free pass into Fantasy Land!)

I hate this damn city.

I'm nobody

I could barely bring myself to go into work last week.

My company has largely moved to a new floor it purchased in our building, but I stayed behind in the old digs, which are now empty and largely desolate. It was a strange environment even before the mass migration. I'll walk past people in the hallways, and they won't even look at me. I wasn't introduced to anyone when I started there; just plopped in a conference room as a makeshift office. I have supervisors who only talk to me, via e-mail, when I do something wrong.

Then, in the employee evaluations, I was, strangely, dinged for not keeping my supervisors apprised of my progress (as were my two co-workers on the same project). This was the excuse given for my less-than-average raise. But since then, when I try to tell my supervisors what's going on, they're largely unresponsive. On one part of the project, I asked three times for a meeting to make sure I was meeting the project requirements, and was blown off each time. When I run into a roadblock, it's like pulling teeth trying to get them to help.

Every morning I wake up later and later because I hate my job. But mostly I hate myself for settling for this crap. It's easy to get complacent when they don't pay attention to when you come and go, and just collect a paycheck. But when you get treated like a nobody for long enough, you start to believe that you are a nobody.

That's why it gets hard for me, at times, to even bring up this web page, which I haven't done all week. I sometimes can't bear to look at my own stupid ramblings, peppered as they are with pop-culture references and profanity. Not because I'm embarrassed, necessarily, but because... they don't mean anything. They don't serve any useful purpose, because I'm a nobody. I have no power and no influence. I have no money. I can't change anything about Washington, so I'm just waiting for the day when I can leave.

I'm not exactly making the world a better place through my existence. Congress isn't going to read any of this and say, "Oh yeah, we should do something about that." All I can do is sit behind my computer screen and make fun of all the bullshit, and hope that it helps a few like-minded Washingtonians feel better.

So... hope this helps.