8.09.2004

ABC: Always Be Citing

Falls Church police are, on average, required to write three tickets or make three arrests during a 12-hour shift.

Outsiders should understand that if all the communities in the Washington area put together were equal to the size of this blog, Falls Church would be the size of this asterisk: *. Thus, cops there will sometimes write multiple tickets in one traffic stop in order to meet their quotas.

Devious. Does the number of criminals in Falls Church stay constant every day? I suppose it would, if you're following the Hasselhoff Theorem of Criminal Activity.

Stupid growth

Why are we so willing to build office space for workers, but unwilling to have those workers as neighbors? This Montgomery County planned development will hold 40,000 workers but only 15,000 residents.

Be sure to check out the rest of the Post's three-part series on "smart" growth and super-commuters.

8.07.2004

Sic semper tyrannus, BITCH

The Franconia roller skating rink is the target of a WeirdCurves boycott, and rightfully so, for making the author cry on her birthday.

On top of that, said blog turns up evidence of discrimination, by said rink, against gay couples. Lovely.

8.06.2004

INS1PID: Personalized Virginia license plates I have hated (part 13 in a series)

On a van: VAN DZL
On a BMW: YUNG CEO
On an Audi TT: FASTTCAR
IMAQTPI
On a minivan: IN2-SOCR

Bad-luck beltway

The Beltway is not a good place to be today. Lots of flipping over, injuries and fatalities, and closed lanes. And Friday the 13th isn't even until next week.

Washington plays the part of Brigadoon

Welcome to Narcolespy-town. Population: these guys.

First, an Anne Arundel County 911 operator fell asleep while talking to a caller, and could be heard comically snoring on the line.

Then, in Alexandria, police responded to a 911 call from a senior living facility to find all three caregivers were fast asleep.

Ladies and gentlemens, I'm please to present a why.i.hate.dc EXCLUSIVE: I have obtained a photograph of the three employees responsible.

8.05.2004

Metro's winning streak continues

Sluggish service on the busiest line since flooding caused an electrical failure several days ago. Train operators who mysteriously vanish, leaving the train to idle at a station for several minutes.

Plus, they're really, really serious about enforcing the no-food-or-drink policy:



"Ma'am, I'm going to have to ask you to drop the Payday now."

8.04.2004

"Maybe it just sags like a heavy load"

OK, you guys know I don't usually do the normal blog and tell y'all about my day, or what I ate for lunch, or what kind of, I don't know, Jello pudding pops I like the best. But a personal experience of mine must be shared. In this... my 600th post spectacular.

This concerns a dream I had early this morning. As dreams go, it actually wasn't completely nonsensical; and, oddly enough, it's actually a follow-up dream. Ever had one of those? A few weeks ago, I dreamt about wandering through a building near Metro Center, while (for some reason) trying to cut over to the Red Line, and encountering a job fair. I hazily recall giving out a few resumes and talking with some besuited young white guy lower-management types.

So in this dream last night, I'm walking through the same building on my way to an Orioles game. I'm trying to cut over to the Red Line again, which, for some reason, in my dream, goes all the way to Camden Yards.

But this time, the exits are all locked; they're closed off and have police tape all over the handles. (Clearly the heightened security has cut off my illicit short-cut.) I'm about to try to back out undetected when a security guard spots me. He follows me and tells me to come with him to talk to the CEO of the company. I try to back away, figuring that if I don't come with him, they don't know who I am and I can't get in trouble. But eventually he somehow convinces me to come with him. He leads me into the elevator and we head to the top floor, where I meet the CEO, who looks and talks kind of like an older Barack Obama. His office has a view of the Red Line train (which looks like a bullet train with a red stripe on it).

The amiable CEO chats with me for a while, and it becomes evident that he's seen my resume (from the previous dream) and is interested in hiring me at his firm, which creates and designs advertising. The CEO talks about how they want someone creative who's a good writer and has an eye for design.

There's a pneumatic tube in his office, like the ones you see at a bank drive-through. Whoosh, in comes a canister. Surprisingly, it contains a job offer to work at the company, with a specific dollar figure attached (I remember it: $85,623), a significant raise over what I make now.

So, I walk around the office, which is colorful and bright. I meet some interesting people who currently work there. I made a note in my notebook to ask them about vacation time, and whether they would be flexible. I had some reservations about going into advertising, so I resolved in my mind to consider the offer for a couple days. That way I could consult with my wife, and also see if I could get my current company to match or beat the offer. Either way, this was a win-win situation.

And the best part was: somebody actually was excited about hiring me for my creativity. They had recognized my talent and intelligence, sought me out specifically, and made me an incredible offer. This offer gave me the chance to escape the repressive yoke of my current job, where I dwell in a lonely, quiet cube, nobody talks to anybody, and management essentially makes up reasons to give us below-average raises.

It gave me this incredible, unusual (for me) feeling of euphoria and self-worth, which even lasted a good five seconds after I woke up. At which point I realized that I was lying in bed, and that none of that had actually happened. There was no great offer at a fun workplace; there was no chance to make more money; there was no chance to escape the job I found to be dull and without recognition. It was 5:10 a.m. I would still have to drive out to motherfucking Reston in a few hours for a meeting with a sneering co-worker.

I was so angry/sad I couldn't get back to sleep. They were showing Canadian Bacon on cable, so I watched that for a hour or so to cheer myself up. Sometimes it's a mystery to me where a dream springs from in our sub-conscious. But I immediately knew exactly what this one was about.

A few weeks ago I had been combing through the classifieds looking for a new job. I was looking for something that would get me closer to home, but also that would get me away from working on a military contract, which I still have some qualms about. People like lobbyists and politicians come to Washington all the time to work for causes they believe in; why couldn't I? Unfortunately, a vast majority of the jobs listed were for military contracts or required security clearances. Nothing inspired me to think the grass would be greener at any of those jobs.

But then, one particular technical job caught my eye. It was essentially a position as a Web Technician for a "non-profit conservation organization" called NatureServe. It seemed to have everything I was looking for. I don't talk about it much, but environmental causes are important to me (Bush lost me right away in early 2001 when he pulled out of the Kyoto protocol). And although it's not my full-time job, I've done enough website work part-time on the side that I could certainly see myself crossing over to doing that full-time (and whatever I didn't know, I could learn). Best of all, the job was on Wilson Blvd. in Rosslyn; if I wanted to, I could even ride my bike there from my Fort Strong apartment.

So I spent some time re-crafting a custom resume and drafting a special cover letter to let them know I really wanted the job, and that I could bring special skills to the table: design, writing, and a strong techincal background. I e-mailed and snail-mailed the package just to be sure they got it. And, like so many times before, heard nothing. Not even an acknowledgement they received it.

It would have been nice to at least talk to them, and see if I was a fit, I thought. I mentioned to my wife my disappointment that they hadn't contacted me, and she asked a very good question:

"They're not affiliate with the Nature Conservancy, are they?"

Uhh, I don't think so, I said. But I wasn't sure. I went back to the website and checked, and sure enough... they are. I couldn't believe that hadn't even occured to me. My supposed "dream job" would have been with the same crooked organization the Post exposed over a year ago as aiding in a series of improper land grabs and loans. I even posted about them!

My heart sank when I found that out. Even if they had called me back, upon learning that little piece of information, I don't think I would have been able to accept a position there.

That revelation seemed to sap my will to look for a job. My efforts to use my talents to help the world rather than harm it had fallen by the wayside. If my only hope for working for a cause in which I believe was with a corrupt organization, what hope was there of doing any good in Washington? I was, once again, powerless to do anything to help, in the Most Powerful City in the World.

After getting a couple more hours of sleep, I woke myself up for the meeting, came into work tired and grouchy, and found out the co-worker had decided to postpone it to 4 p.m. this afternoon. I meet with him in three minutes. And so life goes on.

John F. Kennedy once said he wanted to be an idealist with no illusions.

At this point, I'd settle for illusion.

Put the Chevy to the levy

The Live on Penn street concert series was a great idea. On Saturday nights during the summer, the organizers cordoned off a section of Pennsylvania Avenue, and erected a stage with the Capitol in the background. You could get in for $7 at the gate and drink $5 beers, so a decent enough price. If you were really a cheapskate, you could hang around just oustide the fence and still hear the band.

I had a lot of fun at the Live on Penn concert I went to; I got to see They Might Be Giants play, drink some beers, and even meet Captain Morgan (really!).

So, naturally, in the grand tradition of Things James Likes, Live on Penn has been completely and utterly cancelled. According to the organizers, "the series is no longer viable."

No longer viable? What kinds of crowds were they expecting to get? The first-string lineup consisted primarily of alterna-rock has-beens who haven't had a hit in five-plus years: Eve 6, Tonic, Sister Hazel, Cowboy Mouth. Plus, every weekend it's either rained or been on the verge of rain. That may have kept some people away.

Meanwhile, a short stagger down the street at the Reagan building, a relatively new outdoor club called Air operates during the summer. Apparently, it had managed to crack the segregation of D.C.'s club scene, thanks in part to "black Web-based promoter Flow Entertainment Group, which helped the crowd tilt slightly toward black professionals on Fridays." The musical lineup those nights featured a range of genres with wide, multiracial appeal: "calypso, soca, salsa -- blended with the hottest R&B, hip-hop, Chicago house."

Wait a minute... multi-racial appeal? At the Reagan building? Clearly, that had to stop. And so it did, as Air suddenly laideth the smack down and sacked Flow, choosing instead to play just house and techno on Fridays. Uh-oh, you know what that means... Whites Only! As one patron said:

"I was ticked," says Sy Penn, a 29-year-old advertising executive who wrote Flow to say she would no longer patronize Air. "To be honest with you, it's quite obvious. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that we are being bused to the other part of town. Slowly but surely, they are just moving us out."
OUCH. I have to say, this would never happen at Club One-Tweazy.

Meanwhile, the man in charge of Air is... G. Giles Beeker? Vice President of Trade Center Management Associates? Oh yeah, I'll bet he's really up on the local R&B and club scene. That Trade Center Management Associates has just truckloads of street cred. Trade Center Management Associates rep-ruh-SENT! Guuhhhh.

Anyway... once again, those pesky, enigmatic "economic reasons" mess up a good thing:

Giles Beeker, a vice president at Trade Center Management Associates, says the changes had nothing to do with racism. "Nothing could be further from the truth," he says, explaining that the new format was instituted mostly for economic reasons. While Friday and Saturday nights drew the same number of people, the bar and food receipts generated by the Friday crowd were less than those on Saturday, he says. He declined to provide exact figures, saying Trade Center Management Associates is a private company.
Which makes this other statement all the more odd:

Diversity, Beeker says, is part of the mandate coming from the federal government, which owns the property and agreed to allow the Air parties, and a now-defunct concert series [I believe that would be Live on Penn], as part of a push to breathe new life into downtown.
So the federal government has been mandating diversity downtown, but it's up to the ultra-hip, totally with-it Trade Center Management Associates to decide what that means?

Oh well. That effort to "breathe new life into downtown" seems to have been a total failure; no more concert series and no more multi-ethnic demographic at Air, now that they've been shooed away. Pennsylvania Ave. can now revert to its traditional Saturday night status as "ghost town." Status quo... maintained.

8.03.2004

We have a love/hate relationship with freedom

First St. NE has been closed "indefinitely" between Constitution and D.

Why stop there? Why not just erect a giant brick wall around the Capitol? Coming soon: John Carpenter's Escape from D.C.

8.02.2004

It's quasi-apology time

All [sic], of course.

When I passed along an observation sent to me from one of our members a few weeks ago, it appears it was taken offensively by one or more of our members. For this, I am completely sorry. The intent was to only share a members observation and that observation, in no way, reflects the thoughts of this office or the members of the association. This is a country built on individual freedoms and I understand if someone has an obeservation to share, they should have the opportunity. However, I can no longer justify sending any such statements or observations if they may do harm to the quality and professional standings of this association.
Although our emails are intended soley for the eyes of the members of the [association] [editor's note: ooooops], I must understand that not everyone in this association has the same beliefs or views. I do not promote any agenda, nor do I as an individual try to use my position as commissioner, to promote any personal ideals or beliefs. As stated above, if the statement which was sent out on July 16, was offensive to you then please accept my humble apologies. There was no intent to harm or show a lack of respect to any one person, nationality, sect or denomination.
So, when he sent along a message that said "This idea of America being a multicultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty," and "If 'God' offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home," there was no intent to show a lack of respect? I guess that's just a nasty side effect, then, of telling people who don't follow a certain political, religious and cultural ideology that they should leave the country.

Whatever, it's the usual non-apology apology... "I'm sorry if anyone was offended, but I'm not sorry about what I said," or in this case, "any damage I've done to the association's image." Jeremy Shockey gave a similar "apology" after he called Bill Parcells a "homo." Maybe he and the commish should hang out together.

c.f. The original message.

Terror alert status for D.C. upgraded to Ernie

Al Queda has been targeting the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank?

But... they've both always been so popular with everyone! Inconceivable!

(So glad we invaded Iraq. "The American people are safer!")

Status anxiety

Someone who commented recently said it was hard to put your finger on exactly what was "off" about living in Washington. This article from the Post's Style section on "status anxiety" potentially provides some insight.

Could this be the source of our animosity toward each other? Have we been too focused on career to build a livable city?

7.29.2004

Fuck the (transit) police

You cannot be SERIOUS.

You CANNOT be serious.

That bastion of incompetent fuckheads known as Washington's Metro Transit Police have done it again -- and by "it," of course I mean, "over-exerted and abused their authority in a comically excessive manner." We have yet another name to add to the Overbearing Transit Cop Victims Hall of Fame, presented by, I don't know, Pepsi Vanilla spilled all over a bus seat.

You might recall our 2000 inductee, Ansche Hedgepeth. The then-12-year-old's heinous crime: eating Fren... excuse me, eating Freedom Fries on the train. Ahh, but these were the seldom-seen Freedom Fries of Irony... for her freedom was then taken away. As was she... in handcuffs.

Had Ansche and the other juveniles been adults, they simply would have received citations for fines up to $300. But, McDevitt pointed out, juveniles charged with criminal offenses in the District must be taken into custody.

And, he said, it is department policy to handcuff anyone who is arrested, no matter the age. "Anyone taken into custody has to be handcuffed for officer safety," McDevitt said. Youngsters "can kill you, too."
Yes, don't underestimate the dexterity and ruthlessness of 12-year-old girls, in whose hands fried potatoes become a deadly weapon. Remember that little girl in Kill Bill Vol. 1, who watched her mother die at the hands of Uma Thurman? In Vol. 3, she will get her revenge on Uma with ninja tater tots.

Satisfied with meeting the challenge of arresting a harmless 12-year-old girl, in March 2002 the Transit Police turned its attention to the next logical demographic: people in wheelchairs. Jeremiah Hamilton, our next inductee, thought he was being smart. Aiming to catch a George Carlin comedy concert downtown, Hamilton called Metro's hotline to determine whether the elevators would be working at his destination. The hotline reported that, although the elevator at his chosen station was indeed out of service, it was the only one in the entire Metro system that was not working.

Poor, poor Mr. Hamilton took Metro at its word. And doing that, as we know, is a ginormous mistake.

He adjusted his plan to one stop over and set out to enjoy the show.

When he reached his stop, he found a broken elevator and no one who cared to help.

He got back on the train and went another stop, where he found another broken elevator and no one who cared to help.

Still undaunted, he went back to the platform to go several stops in the wrong direction, hoping the elevator there would be working. He learned it wasn't before his train ever arrived.
This is obviously a frustrating situation. Wheelchair-bound riders have no way out of a Metro station without a working elevator, and without knowing where those working elevators are, our hero was trapped at every station he tried, wasting his evening and causing him to miss the concert.

So, of course, Hamilton did what any self-respecting George Carlin fan would do: he started using some of those seven words you can't say on television. A transit cop across the tracks from Hamilton heard the cursing with his bionic ears and verbally warned Hamilton. When Hamilton cursed again, the cop wrote him a $25 citation for using foul language.

What is it about D.C. that bring about these awful runs of luck for decent people? At any rate, after a public outcry, Metro wound up refunding the $25 and reimbursing Hamilton for cab fare.

In fact, both of these cases were public-relations disasters for WMATA, which was starting to develop a reputation as the Dick Cheney of public transportation: thoughtless, passively abusive, completely unable to admit its faults. And, of course, unequivocally telling people to go fuck themselves. Metro's spokespeople defended the citations, claiming that protecting riders from the inconvenience of watching other people eat or having to listen to profanity was justification enough to put the beat down on whomever they fancied.

Then, for a time, things were calm. But now, in July 2004, I can report to you, dear reader, that our newest martyr has been crowned. Her name is Stephanie Willett.

What was this 45-year-old scientists criminal master plan, a scheme so devious that it necessitated her arrest, as well as the presence of not one, not two, but three members of the Transit Police?

She finished eating a Payday candy bar... inside the fare gates.

About 6:30 p.m. July 16, Willett was eating a PayDay candy bar while riding the escalator from 11th Street NW into the Metro Center Station. Metro Transit Police Officer Cherrail Curry-Hagler was riding up.

The police officer warned Willett to finish the candy before entering the station because eating or drinking in the Metro system is illegal.

Willett nodded, kept chewing the peanut-and-caramel bar and stuffed the last bit into her mouth before throwing the wrapper into the trash can near the station manager's kiosk, according to both Willett and Curry-Hagler.

Curry-Hagler turned around and followed Willett into the station. Moments after making a remark to the officer, Willett said, she was searched, handcuffed and arrested for chewing the last bite of her candy bar after she passed through the fare gates. She was released several hours later after paying a $10 fine, pending a hearing.
During the course of the arrest, Ms. Willett did what any rational, slightly pissed-off person would do while being harrassed about finishing up a candy bar: she told the cop to go find a real crime.

Willett said she was being unfairly punished because she made fun of the police officer after Curry-Hagler issued a second warning before the arrest.

"Why don't you go and take care of some real crime?" Willett said she told the officer while still swallowing the PayDay bar as she rode a second escalator to catch her Orange Line train home.

The police officer ordered Willett to stop and produce identification. "I said, 'For what?' and kept walking," Willett said.

In a report, Curry-Hagler said she wanted to issue a citation for eating on the Metro but the PayDay lover refused to stop.

"Next thing I knew, she pushed me into the cement wall, calls for backup and puts handcuffs on me," Willett said.

She said Curry-Hagler patted her down, running her hands around Willett's bust, under her bra and around her waist. Two other officers appeared, and the three took Willett to a waiting police cruiser.
Now, if I may, I'd like to address Officer Cherrail Curry-Hagler for a moment here. I know that eating inside Metro is illegal, but nailing a passenger for having the remnants of a candy bar completely inside her mouth just after passing through the fare gates is just a bit fucking overboard. I know your feelings were probably hurt when the candy bar-eater told you to go find some real crime. And I know that you, Hightower, and Tackleberry are trying really, really hard to impress Commandant Lasard. But maybe, just maybe, this would be a good one to just let go. Keep going on up that escalator and just don't worry about it. You don't have to go pursue and arrest every non-threatening middle-aged woman who happens to question your law-enforcement methods. Next time, take a deep breath. Count to 100 if you have to. There's no reason to ruin someone's day, making yourself and an entire transit system a laughing stock, over a simple, delicious, caramel-coated peanut bar.

OK, back to the story! Metro spokeswoman "Lisa Farbstein" (obviously an alias) apologized profusely for the inconvenience experienced by Willett, and assured the Metro-going public that it could safely ride the train without having to worry about being arrested for silly, minor offenses.

Ahh, that was a test! Were you paying attention? Did I set off your bullshit detector? If so, give yourself 10 points. Farbstein, of course, followed Metro's grand tradition of telling the customer to go fuck themselves:

"We've been doing our best to crack down on people who are consuming food and beverages in our stations because we get so many complaints about it," said Lisa Farbstein, a Metro spokeswoman. "In this instance, the woman was given a warning, which she ignored, and she jammed the rest of the candy bar into her mouth and continued to chew."

[...]

Farbstein said Willett violated the rules. "Chewing is eating," she said.
And, as the entire law enforcement community knows, the only appropriate way to crack down on people who eat in the station is to pounce on them and fucking hog-tie them like it's a rodeo! YEEEE-HAWWWWW!

Ladies and gentlemen, enough joking around. It's time to get tough; time for some good old-fashioned civil disobedience, Gandhi style! In that spirit...

I declare this Monday, August 2, to be EAT WHILE YOU RIDE DAY. I believe it is every Metro-riding citizen's duty to stand up against our oppressors at WMATA by eating or drinking something... anything... on the train or bus on that fateful, delicious day. Bring a candy bar; bring fast food; bring a three-course meal if you like. Bring hors d'oeurves and serve them to fellow passengers. Bring a grape smoothie and spill some on the farecard machine. "Accidentally" drop some linguini on the escalator, thus rendering it inoperable for weeks. If everybody's eating en masse, who can they police hogtie and arrest?

Well, probably a few people. But at least the fine's small. I figure, if they catch you, just tell them "Lisa Farbstein" said it was OK. Then give them a sly wink. They'll have no choice but to let you go.

(In conclusion, I should not have watched that Weather Underground documentary yesterday.)

7.27.2004

Peter Angelos is a little bitch

I don't get it. Either the Orioles will be devestated by the competition posed by a Washington baseball team, or there are no real baseball fans here and it doesn't matter. I guess they're giving us both excuses just in case.

[Baltimore Orioles owner Peter] Angelos told WBAL's Sportsline another team in Washington or Northern Virginia would hurt the team. He says "There are no real baseball fans in D.C." Angelos says the fans are mainly in the Maryland suburbs, and those pushing for a D.C. or Northern Virginia team are trying to steal Orioles' fans.
I went to about 15 Braves games a year when I lived in Atlanta. I wrote and assistant-edited the team's fan magazine for a time. I have three composition books full of custom made box scores, recounting games I attended dating back to 1991. I've foolishly purchased the digital cable package that brings me all the regular season baseball games every year since 2002. I've visited cities specifically to check their ballparks off my list. I paid $150 to attend one World Series game.

So anyway, I think I qualify as a baseball fan. And it's telling that the number of Orioles games I've been to, this year, is zero. I've even, somehow, been to one Mets game. But no O's games. Because they suck, and are far away. (And, OK, the one I tried to go to was rained out. I'm not counting that one.)

This whole process of trying to bring a team to either D.C. or West Virginia has been so incredibly chock full o' bullshit, but somehow Angelos managed to add yet another heaping load to the pile. Way to go. Ass.

That's boredomtainment

Working in personality-free Reston is taking its toll. I've decided I'm going to have to raise the bar on the quality of conversations I have with co-workers. There's only so much boredom and upper-class twitidity I can take before attempting to launch myself out a window.

So from now on, when somebody racks up three strikes in one conversation, I'm just going to have to permanently tune them out. Here's an example of what I mean, from a conversation with one of my bosses this morning:

- "My fiancee is also my realtor." Strike 1.
- "She keeps calling because we have to transfer the HOA [Home Owners Association] agreement on my old townhouse." Strike 2.
- Joking about our company being unable to hire more computer scientists: "We should hire those temporary [Hispanic] workers who hang around the 7-11 on Elden St. in Herndon." No longer joking: "I used to live around there; it's a really bad neighborhood."

Aaaaand that's a big strike 3. You're outta there, buddy. Any further attempts at casual conversation will now be ignored with extreme prejudice.

7.26.2004

Teenage wasteland

Homicides overall are down in D.C., but more juveniles have been murdered already this year than in all of 2003. The latest victim was a 15-year-old girl, cut down in an apparently random drive-by shooting.

"The machine had her breathing and all that," Lowe said a few hours after telling doctors at Howard University Hospital to take Myesha off life support. "But I saw my baby's brain coming out of her head. I knew she was gone."

[...]

Meanwhile, [neighbor] Cindi Garber stood outside her home, examining what looked like a palm-size bloodstain on the sidewalk and the shattered glass scattered across her sidewalk and into the street. She wondered whether she should clean it up but said she didn't want to offend neighbors who knew the girl or hinder police by removing evidence, she said. But it was upsetting to look out her window and see the markers of the attack out there, she said.
You'll be able to learn more household tips for cleaning up bloodstains when you visit this year's "city living, dc style!" expo, Septe... excuse me, september 17-19. Ask for Babs.

Sloth!

Time to travel, via Metrorail, from Judiciary Square station to Court House station, after the They Might Be Giants street concert, at the ungodly hour of 10 p.m. on Saturday night...

55 minutes.

Distance travelled: about five miles.

Even MARTA was faster than this.

(Note to Metro: That's right, I compared you unfavorably to MARTA. You just got served.)

D.C. bites back

Apparently my trademark D.C. luck got transferred this weekend to Meghan's friend from New York.

The highlight might have been when someone approached us to inform her: "I thought Cyndi Lauper was dead." It was my fault, I guess. I forgot to mention that she should be dressed in khaki at all times.
So true, and so sad.

Maybe this is that Corporation movie I saw yesterday talking, but perhaps we should consider classifying Washington, D.C. as psychopathic.

7.23.2004

Uh-oh, someone's not getting a date to semi-formal

I know that if you're reading me, you probably read Wonkette first. But in case you haven't seen it, her scoop about the Capitol Club's reaction to the story about The Madison... is simply priceless.

From: Tripp Donnelly Sent: Wednesday, July 21, 2004 10:31 AM To: xxxxxxxx Subject: RE: Hill Piece
xxxxxxxx-

Congratulations on the article and recent party. Let me preface what i'm about to say that I know it is and was all in good fun. I will say that my phone and email has been blasted this morning. Several of our members - especially those on the Hill - weren't delighted with the reference of the capital club in the article. Several members, especially former members of the cap club and Hill guys, do not want the Madison to be referenced as the female equivalent to the club. Hence, I did want to reach out to you about this. I know it may have come from one of our members at the party, but it's critical that we have final say in whatever goes into print or broadcast with the club's name. Member's names can be referenced, but the club can not. I know the piece was all in fun and I enjoyed it, but please let your board know - that we had some notable past members, present members and board members that weren't excited about the piece and want to nip the reference in the proverbial bud.

T.
Ha ha... this can't be a real e-mail. I refuse to believe that "Tripp Donnelly" is someone's real name.

"It's critical that we have final say in whatever goes into print or broadcast with the club's name." Yes, it's a good thing the Cap Club has the right of first (amendment) refusal on all references to its name. Because otherwise we might all think they're a bunch of self-worshipping choads!

Seriously, replace references to "Cap Club" with "Sigma Chi", and throw in a reference or two to SGA, and this is pretty much the kind of letter we would get at our college newspaper. Before laughing and throwing it in the trash.

7.21.2004

Metrorail reaches unprecedented levels of inconvenience

WMATA is running out of SmartTrip cards. Who could have possibly forseen such an increase in demand? Well, ignoring how they now force commuters to exclusively use said cards to pay for parking fees.

Do the people who run Metro actually ever have to ride it? Or do they, more likely, live in some magical fantasy land of delusion and wonder?

The Stepford Capital

You vomited at reading about the Capitol Club. Now, dry heave at the subserviant female equivalent: The Madison.

One local news personality, said a Madison higher-up, "calls us trophy wives in training." She laughs, tucking a strawberry-blond lock behind her ear. "I would be the ultimate trophy wife!"

Of course, Madison women are keenly aware that trophy wives can have fun but not too much fun: No one wants his trophy too tarnished before they walk down the aisle.
All right! It's good the hear that we've finally caught up to Mississippi, circa 1910 or so.

What makes The Madison a big, fat target for anyone who isn’t a member is that it looks and feels like a relic of a faraway time and place — before Betty Friedan, Roe v. Wade, the 19th Amendment. There’s a curiously staid quality, a predictability, about going out on the town in the nation’s capital. In New York, everyone is looking for an experience; in Washington, they’re looking for a future; in Washington there’s a lack of edge.
And these are the people who have the run of the local bars. Don't ruffle too many feathers, ladies.

Most disturbing Google search hit ever

"girl available for fucking in reston"

Wow.

Good luck with that, buddy.

7.20.2004

Hispanic immigrants: Virginians will tolerate you, as long as you, you know, stay inside

The Fairfax County police thought it would be a good idea to hold an open Spanish-language demonstration on how to install and use a child car safety seat. The idea was to try to build up some goodwill between the cops and a rapidly growing segment of the population.

So why did nobody show up?

It seems that immigrants are afraid of being deported by the cops after the passage of a (say it with me now) new state law. The law allows the arrest, without a warrant, of immigrants with prior felonies who are suspected of committing another crime.

The law's passage has been a daily topic on media outlets within the immigrant enclaves. Sgt. Richard Perez, a Fairfax police spokesman, said he has appeared on Spanish-language television and radio stations to explain the new law. Each time, his office has been flooded with calls as soon as he left the air.

Hispanic residents, he said, "are under the impression that this law was going to be used to start deporting all illegal aliens." Perez added that "people are contemplating hoarding food and staying inside to withstand the initial onslaught of enforcement."
I can't understand why they would be afraid to step outside in the county that's home to Pat Buchanan, who is of course a friend to all immigrants. But there you go.

Part of the problem is that it can be hard to prove one's status, said Frecia Guzman, a Salvadorian immigrant who owns a deli in Fairfax.

She noted that many of her Salvadorian friends are in the United States with a special asylum grant known as Temporary Protected Status. But many don't have the papers to prove it and have been waiting for months to get their documents from the federal government.

Now they are afraid of venturing outside their homes, believing they will get stopped by police and asked to produce documents that prove their immigration status, she said.

"They are scared to go out to the restaurants," Guzman said. "They don't even want to go outside."
Virginia: Give us your tired, your poor, your agoraphobic.

Zebras stick to their own kind

I mentioned last week that I work as an offical at football games. The pre-season is almost here, so it's time for the annual training clinic, about which I received a mass e-mail reminder from the commissioner last week.

(The hateful part is about halfway down.)

The clinic [...] will be held in the Multi-Purpose Room [...] and NOT in the auditorium. The dress for the day is casual and you may want to bring a pen for writing and some paper to write on in case you want to take notes. There will be no food served so please eat a hearty breakfeast and make arrangements for a late lunch. If you bring a drink with you please make sure it has a re-sealable top to prevent spills. If you bring any kind of snack, please be sure to clean up your debris. The format for the meeting is as follows:

8:00 AM Clinic Registration and Sign In - We want to make sure everyone who attends gets credit; however it is EACH INDIVDUAL MEMBERS RESPONSIBILITY TO SIGN IN, so please remember if YOU do not sign in and/or out, you WILL NOT receive credit for attending. There will be no sign ins after 8:30 as the rules clinic will be in session.

8:30 AM Rules Clinic - coaches will be in attendance as the usual format must be maintained by the VHSL. Each member will sign an attendance card at the end of this session to receive state credit.

Approx. 10:00 AM - Panel/Group Discussion - The Pregame

Approx. 10:45 AM - Position breakdown session - Topics to be chosen. If you have special requests for discussion please contact the commissioner to have them taken under advisement.

Approx. 11:30 AM BREAK - Snack if you brought one- If you are leaving please remember to sign out to receive credit for 1 state meeting and 1 association meeting.

Approx. 11:45 AM - Group Meeting - General association topics including perception, the status of the NVFOA and the play-off selection format. If you are leaving after this session, please sign out to receive credit.

Approx. 12:30 PM - Film and Discussion on Mechanics and Philosophy

Approx. 1:45 PM - Sign Out.

Our goal is to cover everything and get out no later than the above format. However, please do not come with the mindset that we will definitely end at this time. The most important aspect is to cover all topics and make sure everyone understands where the [association] is going. This may take a little more time or it may run so smoothly we get out earlier than expected. So please be flexible.

As mentioned in an earlier email, the [...] Supplies trailer will be present for anyone needing to make a purchase of equipment or to order shirts, etc., after the clinic. As a side note, I have given up most of my interest in this business but have maintained a portion to ensure the NVFOA get localized service and pricing. Because of this change there could be some other requiements for ordering taking down the road.

[...]

Last but not least the following observation was passed to us from one of our members and we thought it would be proper to pass it along.


IMMIGRANTS, NOT AMERICANS, MUST ADAPT.


I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Americans. However, the dust from the attacks had barely settled when the "politically correct"? crowd began complaining about the possibility that our patriotism is offending others.

I am not against immigration, nor do I hold a grudge against anyone who is seeking a better life by coming to America. Our population is almost entirely made up of descendants of immigrants. However, there are a few things that those who have recently come to our country, and apparently some born here, need to understand. This idea of America being a multicultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our national identity. As Americans, we have our own culture, our
own society, our own language and our own lifestyle. This culture has been developed over centuries of struggles, trials, and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom.

Americans speak ENGLISH, not Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society, learn the language!

"In God We Trust" is our national motto. This is not some Christian, right wing, political slogan. We adopted this motto because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display our motto on the walls of our schools. If "God" offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture.

If Stars and Stripes offend you, or you don't like Uncle Sam, then you should seriously consider a move to another part of this planet. We are happy with our culture and have no desire to change, and we really don't care how you did things where you came from. This is OUR COUNTRY, our land, and our lifestyle. Our First Amendment gives every citizen the right to express his opinion and we will allow you every opportunity to do so But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about our flag, our pledge, our national motto, or our way of life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great American freedom, THE RIGHT TO LEAVE.

If you agree -- pass this along; if you don't agree -- delete it!

AMEN
A citizen of Tampa Bay, FA
So, then... what does that attachment have to do with being a football official? If you're an immigrant, atheist or disagree with anything about America, you should consider leaving the country? Samma-wha?

Well, then. I guess I'm feeling a bit... uncomfortable. Right now.

Although (I hope) is wasn't intended this way, the message seems to imply that only one type of cultural, religious, and political ideology are welcome in our association. And when you consider the fact that we're chronically and desperately trying to retain and recruit members (a nationwide problem), injecting a separatist political ideology into an otherwise routine e-mail about training seems like a really fucking stupid idea. And yet, that's what the commissioner has done.

Of course, I'm even stupider for writing to him to complain about it. Yes, I replied to the e-mail, like a moron, and told him what I think about his separatist rhetoric. So much for getting a playoff game this year. But I had to say something. Is it just a coincidence that we have the smallest recruiting class ever this year, and will have to work short-handed at a majority of our games? Perhaps presenting an image of an association open to only one type of political thinking finally taken its toll?

Well, maybe not. But this certainly doesn't help, and I don't like having to compromise what I believe by calling myself a part of it. Because, again, I'm stupid.

Forget it, James.

It's Virginiatown.

7.15.2004

why.i.hate.dc FLASHBACK!

Oh, these are always so much fun. Let's step in the wayback machine for a "blast from the past!"

07.15.1924

I say, fellowes! A few days ago while reading the sports page of the local news-paper, I happened upon this bedevilling account:

A few weeks after a Tigers-Yankees game ended with a forfeit due to a riotous scene involving approximately 1,000 fans on the field, today's Senators-Indians game concludes with a fan's tangling with an umpire, and player-manager Bucky Harris' likely suspension.

As the Post's Frank H. Young reports: The "battle, which the Nationals took from the Cleveland Indians, 15 to 11, came very near ending in a wholesale riot when a hot-headed fan leaped from the grandstand near the local dugout as the last visitor was retired and took a punch at Umpire Ducky Holmes. The two men were immediately surrounded by several hundred fans, but not before [Cleveland 3B Chick] Fewster had grabbed Holmes' assailant and Umpire Moriarty had landed on the fan just as he was ready to take another punch at 'The Duck.'
Oh dear, that is no way to behave during a professional sporting event. I must say I am troubled by this turn of events, as I, too, have witnessed such boorish and drunken behavior while out on the town.

"Just what made Mr. Fan lose his head in the manner he did is not known, as the umpiring was apparently no worse than usual.
Fellow citizens, we must get to the bottom of this unexplainable rage on the part of our neighbors. If our quaint little town is indeed fit for President and Mrs. Coolidge to call home, we should be dignified enough to refrain from such loutishness. Do we truly wish to behave as Terrapins fans do? I say nay.

Sincerely,
Ye olde James F.
Ahh, that really brings me back. It's nice to be reminded that the me of 80 years ago was just as brilliant as the me of today.

Straight outta south-central Reston

These days, I'm forced to spend most of my days in motherfucking Reston, since that's where my motherfucking job is located. And you know what I've never had the desire to do out here?

Pack heat.

Apparently, though, you shouldn't let the bland office parks and mid-level chain restaurants fool you. MFing Reston is an urban concrete jungle, filled, apparently, with so much danger and gun battles that some people feel the need to openly carry pistols in public.

On July 2, Fairfax County police received a 911 call from a Champps restaurant in Reston. Six men are seated at a table, the caller said. They're all armed.

Dispatchers quickly sent four officers to the scene. The officers were "extremely polite" and were hoping that some of the men were in law enforcement, said Sgt. Richard Perez, a spokesman for the police department. None was.

The men told the officers "they were just exercising their rights as citizens of the commonwealth," Perez said.

Turns out, packing a pistol in public is perfectly legal in Virginia. And three times in the last month, including at Champps on Sunset Hills Road, residents have been spotted out and about in the county, with guns strapped to their hips, exercising that right.
That... is some creepy-ass shit. But also hilarious. They're packing heat at Champps.

Champps!

What do they think is going to happen? Terrorists are going to come crashing in and take hostages? "Give us Southwestern chicken Caesar salad now, or this bitch gets it! Oh, and throw some more of those little tortilla chip strips, too, please."

It turns out that the lawmakers down in Richmond, always known for their careful forethought, reinforced legislation that makes open carrying of guns legal. Now, even local jurisdictions who had banned the practice are forced to allow it.

Virginia statute 15.2-915 now completely prohibits any locality from enacting any regulations on gun ownership, carrying, storage or purchase, except for rules related to the workforce. Alexandria, for example, had an ordinance prohibiting openly carrying guns. It is now invalid.
So, good news, MS-13! You can now carry guns around legally! Muy bueno!

Meanwhile, back on the mean streets of Reston:

Three days after the incident at Champps, a married couple were walking their dogs down Market Street, the busy thoroughfare in the heart of Reston Town Center, about 3 p.m. In addition to pistols on their hips, Perez said, both the man and woman were carrying an extra magazine of ammunition.
So, not only does this couple think that there's enough danger lurking in Reston Town Center that they need their guns. They're also prepared to fucking reload if necessary.

So, who are these deluded fuckjobs who think they need to protect themselves with firearms while grabbing a frappucino at the Tysons Corner Starbucks? Why, it's members of the predictably-named Virginia Citizens Defense League. These inbred fucking Cletuses have taken up the burden of protecting far-flung Northern Virginia from the perilous nothing that was threatening all of us.

[VCDL president Philip] Van Cleave said most gun owners, particularly defense league members or concealed weapon permit owners, are law-abiding. Anti-gun forces "have come to think guns themselves are evil. You've got to worry about the person, not the gun."
I AM WORRIED ABOUT THE PERSON, goddammit. These people are fucking insane wackjobs, as evidenced by their carrying of loaded weapons into Champps. I don't think it's a far-flung notion to think that somebody that paranoid won't fly off the handle. "Excuse me miss, but when I said I wanted the dressing on the side, I wasn't fucking kidding around." BANG! God forbid I should show up for kareoke night and one of these yokels doesn't like my singing. "Dammit, that's not a Toby Keith song!" BANG!

But the best part of all this is how it contributes to my worst nightmare. I work as an on-field official during football games, and I occasionally work Pop Warner, which consists of little kids from first grade up through middle school. The kids are fine, but the parents are sometimes unruly; some of them occasionally drink a little too much while watching their kids participate. The stands are often very close to the field, so we often get some unwelcome editorial comments. My worst nightmare is that Cletus Sr. will get pissed that I called pass interference on Cletus Jr., and pull out his piece. And there I am, in an open field, with no security around to put his ass down.

So, Virginia lawmakers and the NRA: my nightmares thank you. You've once again put the legal power to easily kill me in the hands of the easily paranoid. Bravo.

Metro: Riders must wear hard hats

A Metro rail passenger almost got brained by a large chunk of falling ceiling at Farragut North station. But don't worry, I'm sure the powers that be are on top of the problem, so that it won't happen again.

Metro officials have said the transit system needs $1.5 billion in the next six years to buy rail cars and buses and to rehabilitate stations and equipment. So far, none of the local jurisdictions that fund Metro or the federal government has agreed to pay those costs.
Or not.

Meanwhile, here's a funny phone conversation I overheard last night on Metro rail:

"We have to get out of D.C. I can't stand the inefficiency. Yeah. This is ridiculous. I'll see you in 45 minutes. Bye. [hangs up angrily]"
This perturbed young woman got off at Metro Center, probably to get on the Red Line for some far-flung Maryland destination. And I'm with you, angry girl, because it really is annoying how slow the trains are at night. We were at the D.C. United-Nottingham Forest match last night at RFK Stadium (good game, BTW; it's no baseball, but still fun). We got to the station at about 9:45 and waited 20 minutes for the Orange train to show up. We finally got to our home station, Court House, at 10:40. So that's about 55 minutes of travel time to go 7.3 miles. I happen to know that I can bike that distance in less time. Granted, at that time of night there's a chance I would wind up tangled in the bumper of some stolen van careening down Constitution Ave. But taking 55 minutes to go seven miles is not "rapid transit." It's "slow-ass transit."

At least they got rid of the failed two-car train experiment on weekday nights. But if they want people to ride the train at night, they're going to have to make it more convenient than bicycling.

7.14.2004

Washington Times: Still hasn't been burned down by an angry mob

Even after all that hard work by John Gorenfeld exposing the Rev. Sun Myung Moon crowning himself the Messiah, the insane voice of the Moon-owned Washington Times is still tolerated and encouraged in D.C. In fact, Marlyand representative Roscoe Bartlett (yes, his real name) claimed he attended the ceremony in honor of the Times:

"I'm a conservative," he said. "I'm delighted that we have a middle-of-the-road paper in Washington."
That's right... the Washington Times is middle-of-the-road. The same Times, by the way, printed this editorial a couple weeks ago:

One reason is that it's too blindingly obvious that Mr. Clinton's book should have been titled "My Lie." All of that stuff about Hillary being mad, making him sleep on the couch, going to marriage counselors for a year, yada yada, is all made up. They have had a pact for decades: He gets to fool around with women, and she gets to fool around with women (plus the occasional man like Vince Foster).

Yes, she's bisexual -- I disclosed that in an infamous Strategic Investment column in January 1993, and Dick Morris publicly revealed it a few years ago. You knew that, right?
Wow, that passage would make even Matt Drudge blush like a schoolgirl. And this crap was actually printed. Yes, in a newspaper! Ah, but not just any newspaper; a middle-of-the-road newspaper. Which we should all love and treasure.

Just remember not to confuse Moonie mass-arranged "marriages" with gay "marriage" (in quotes per WT style).

I'm not the target audience

From the Only in Washington Dept.: For the past two days, WTOP radio has been running an advertisment that begins:

"Senator Bill Frist. Do you [blah blah blah...]".

That's right, the intended audience for the spot is one guy. I don't even remember what the message is; there's something the lobbyists want him to concentrate on rather than the gay marriage amendment. Which is fine, but really, isn't this kind of a gamble? Unless you happen to know that Frist listens to that particular station at that time of morning?

But more importantly, must you make the radio listening public sit through your boring-ass lobbying efforts? I kind of miss advertisments promoting things I can actually buy, like, you know... goods? And, perhaps, services even? Pizza, and the like?

It's bad enough we have to listen to defense contractors like Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed Martin fellate themselves over our radio waves, crowing over how great it is that their defense systems allow our country to more effectively bomb targets of the retarded wars that Bush decides to instigate.

Yes, thank you, military contractors, for using our tax dollars to lobby for more tax dollars. Now go get me a pizza.

7.12.2004

INS1PID: Personalized Virginia license plates I have hated (part 12 in a series)

4TEA-LUV (that's adorably vomitous)
NUF SEDD (oh please)
FITE CLB (obviously, the less said about this, the better)
IM CHAS (hi, Chas; you're a dork, and your name is Chas)
WHAZZAP (Great license plate... NOT. Stay tuned for more '90s catch phrases.)

RAAAAAAGE

The summer heat is on, and folks 'round here are gettin' a might murderous. Four murder victims over the weekend, including two teenagers killed and three more people hurt in one shooting spree late Saturday night. Sadly, that puts us up over 100, although still in good shape to come in under 200 for the year.

The violence isn't limited to D.C. In Frederick, even cows aren't safe from gun violence. The great tragedy here, of course, is the costumed cow vigilanteism that will originate from the young calf who witnessed the murder of his parents.

Meanwhile, I myself witnessed two bizarre acts of road rage over the weekend. Well, actually only one was on the road. Coming back from dinner Friday night, driving west on Lee Highway in Rosslyn, we saw two SUVs in a strange duel with each other; at about 35 mph, one swerved suddenly in front of the other, as if trying to cause an accident. And then did it again, and again. All this in the middle of a cluster of traffic; everyone was lucky to escape a giant pile-up. Just as suddenly, the SUV's stopped dueling and started driving normally. Surreal.

Then, we were biking yesterday on the Mt. Vernon trail. At one point it crosses under a bridge, and the passageway is narrower than the path, so bicyclists sometimes have to wait for it to clear out before proceeding. As we approached, one cyclist was waiting for a skateboarder to make his way out, so nothing too unusual. Then, the cyclist says something rude to the skater as he cleared the tunnel, I guess for making him wait, which starts them arguing. It didn't develop into anything, but... seriously, WTF? I've never seen bike-path rage before.

Where is the love?