Three things I would like out of my city

1) I like to be able to explore without fearing for my life.

A violent mugging and other recent crimes in and around an abandoned park in Columbia Heights have re-energized longstanding complaints by neighbors for police to take swift action. In the most recent instance, a man was mugged for just 41 cents on the way to buy a newspaper from the BP gas station yards away from his home.
The murder rate has gone down thanks to better police work, but D.C. is still the second most dangerous city in the country.

2) More local flavor and personality; fewer chains. I'm all for the development in Chinatown, near MCI Center, which is becoming one of my favorite hangouts. The new movie theaters look nice (although they presumably feature the fucking 2WENTY, which I have sworn to destroy). But the retail outfits they're putting in predictablly comprise a chain-store yuppie fantasyland: Ann Taylor, Aveda, Benetton, Urban Outfitters, Clyde’s, Sport and Health Clubs. I think there will also be three or four Starbucks. Per capita.

And they're putting in (really expensive) condos above that... at least somebody's using vertical space intelligently for a change. I can't afford to live there, but I think I could simulate it if I pitched a tent in the Tysons Corner parking garage and fed on a steady diet of $50 bills.

(Seriously, did the world need another Clyde's? And that's going to be right across from Legal Sea Foods. How is it that the most mediocre restaurants here thrive and multiply the most? Anyway.)

3. A city where everything doesn't fucking close down at 6 p.m. I was heading to a concert at DAR Constitution Hall a couple months ago; the show started at 8, and I figured I could just grab a quick bite in the neighborhood beforehand.

Ahhh, but that's where I was apparently the chump. As soon as all the workers leave the business district for the day, everything closes. I was walking all around the area from Farragut West station to DAR and couldn't find a damn thing open. Oh, there was a McDonald's with a line of about 20 angry-looking people waiting... decided to pass on that one. And, I hoped to sneak into Potbelly and get a sandwich before they closed. No such luck. Then I walked past an endless stream of cafes that roll up the red carpet at 6.

Eventually, I found a cheap-ass pizza-by-the-slice place, and ordered a mediocre slice of half-day-old pizza. There were two other people in the restaurant, which thankfully didn't close until 8, I think. But wow, I hate going downtown and walking around in the dark, or on the weekend, and finding out that everything's closed... I feel like I'm alone in a ghost town. It's the middle of a major metropolitan area, and yet there's no vitality and no community once work ends for the day. Bleh.

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