Scary Town, Confusing Headline

My predecessor wrote something a ways back about the creepiness of Great Falls, VA. For those not in the know, Great Falls is a rural area that happens to be smack dab in the middle of Northern Virginia. It's right over the Potomac from, uh, Potomac.

Unlike Potomac, MD, which is of course developed, some rich folks bought up the land in Great Falls and have since refused to let their 20 acre lots be disturbed by nuisances like sidewalks or black people. Seriously, I bet that Clinton Portis and Gilbert Arenas (who is now on my blog roll) are the only two black dudes living in the area. They can certainly afford it:

The median income for a family in the CDP [census designated place] was $170,618 and the median income for a household was $250,000.

That's a very rich census designated place. Also, so it doesn't appear that I am plagarizing, I got that statistic from Wikipedia.

It must be nice to live only twenty miles from a city while completely ignoring the crime emergencies and stadium deals.

Again, this is old news. I bring it up as reminder that Virginia is weird. I also being it up because The Washington Post ran an article on how some blasphemous Great Falls community members are asking for amenities like sewer lines, sidewalks, restaurants, and, yes, even a Starbucks. All things that will attract more black people to their quiet town.

Again, creepy, but nothing new. What I don't get is the Post's headline: "Questioning Growth on the Q.T."

I have no idea what "Q.T." means. I've read the article three times, and it's never explained. I know that headline duties are usually relegated to the editors, so what the Hell happened? Did they edit out a "Q.T." reference then stick with the headline. I mean, Virginia is a really bad place, but awful journalism is just as much a thorn in my side.

I'm also aware that I'm probably missing something.

No. I read it a fourth time. It's not me. I even Googled it. That only exacerbated my confusion. What the Hell does "Q.T." mean? I always used "Q.T." as an abbreviation for "quality time" when I wanted to guilt my father into taking me mini-golfing or to a baseball game. I don't think that's what the Post was going for. Can someone please help?


  1. "On the qt"
    Meaning: On the quiet, off the record or in confidence.

  2. Yes, someone working at the paper just explained it to me.

    Hey, the first thing I learned in Writing for Mass Communication (a 200 level class) was to not use terms that people might not know or understand without an explanation. Way to go, Post!

  3. A copy editor should have known better -- what a f'n joke.

  4. What's next, a headline with '23 skidoo'? Let's dance the Charleston while we're at it.

  5. Awful blogging is a thorn in my side.

    So infrastructure and Starbucks are going to attract black people to this enclave?

    It's a good thing you're here to fight all injustice around the city of Washington, DC. You need to wear a skin-tight uniform with a giant R on the front.

  6. Sorry, I'm a little grumpy today.

    "Happy Holidays," Rusty.

  7. so a bunch of people like their neighborhood the way it is. what's wrong with that?

  8. In defense of Great Falls - I don't think they are trying to keep black people out per se.

    Rather, they want to keep the little people out (be they black or white or hispanic - except of course when they need their lawns mowed).

    They hate starbucks for all the same reasons super rich liberals hate wal mart. Its where the masses shop. Why do starbucks with its cheap $3.50, when you can get a $7 dollar latte at Gilletes and support a "local" small business.

    Great Falls is disgusting, but in the same NIMBY way that any place with super rich liberals who think they are saving nature and the world often is.

    And, in that regard, I guess McLean become such a nicer place because while its filled with the same pretensious snots (and spoiled bratty kids) in addition to the expensive restaurants and stabucks, it also has 3 McDonalds, Rocco's family style italian restaurant and 2 7-11s (one right next to Starbucks) (and of course, McLean Family Restaurant)

  9. Yes, one should never use terms that everyone might not know or understand. Everything should always be completely colorless and dumbed down and homogenous so as not to remind the lowest common denominator of their ignorance. Hey, kind of like this blog!

  10. I make jokes about Great Falls and black people because one of the perks of the town is that it allows you to ignore the majority-minority city that's only 20 miles away. I think that's why it attracts so many Republicans.

  11. On that note, how about another offensively inoffensive and completely insubstantial "rant"?

    "I sure does hate commutin'!"

  12. Anonymous, mass media should be dumbed down because it's for the masses. Not necessarily as dumbed down as the USA Today, but dumber than a thesis paper. In my journalism classes we were taught to shoot for betwwen 4th and 6th grade reading levels. What 5th grader is going to know what the fuck "Q.T." means.

    Incidentally, I have a reading grade level of 5.65. Since I'm a blog and not a major newspaper, I wish that were higher. I will need to use more polysyllabic words. (See what I did right there?)

  13. Uh, yeah, I see that you undercut yourself with an incoherent, dumbshit response. Good work.

  14. I'm not going to join this fight about "QT", but-

    So are you saying that Great Falls should look more like Ashburn?
    I'd rather take a sunday drive down the georgetown pike to the great falls park than go out into urban sprawl in most parts of Nova.

    Furthermore, how much you let the place and its inhabitants bother you is up to you. Lack of diversity certainly isnt a good thing, but--it's a wealthy white suburb with big land parcels 20 miles from the city. I don't think it should come as a shock that these exist near every. city. in. America. So who cares about them? They certainly aren't going anywhere...

  15. By the way, I meant this blog has a reading level of 5.65. Not me. I have a much higher reading level than that.

  16. I'm one of what I bet are a relatively small number of black readers of this blog. I hope I speak for all of us when I say, "leave us the hell out of this." (All of the rest of them just cringed in guilt at having read this blog at all.)

    Anyway, FWIW (I hope no 5th graders are confused by that acronym) Green trumps Black. I think somebody said that during the OJ trial. My new Great Falls neighbors would welcome me with open Armani-clad arms if I could put an Aston Martin in my driveway.

  17. lincolnparkerDecember 13, 2006

    Yeah, add me to the list of people who aren't sure what this is doing here.

    I hate DC too, but not because of its proximity to Great Falls.

    Ok so Great Falls is an upper crust exurb with inhabitants that want their community a certain way. And?

    Everyone who makes a ton of money should give it away to a socially acceptable left-wing charity and rent in Columbia Heights?

    How do you know how much those awful rich people care or don't care about crime emergencies and stadium deals? Maybe they do, maybe not. Maybe they give a shitload of money to DC-based charities. Maybe they send church groups to staff Martha's Table.

    But even if they don't, why should I care? One of the benefits of living in Great Falls is not worrying about the DC government's idiocy, right?

    If the point of this blog is to bitch about DC, why should I look down on people who presumably "ignore" our delightful town?

    Or is everyone in a 50-mile radius supposed to obsess over every "guy arrested taking a crap behind CVS" story in the metro section?

  18. Lack of diversity certainly isnt a good thing

    Why? That's certainly ONE opinion. Stop the hate.

    And your journalism classes taught you to strive for a fourth-grade level? We were always taught that the NY Times went for an eighth-grade level....

    'Course, that was several years ago. I guess times are a changin'.

    And what's that person of color (POC) talkin' 'bout? Rusty hates him some white folks.

  19. I think it's unfair for people who make a living by working in Washington to go so far out of their way to avoid the city's numerous problems.

    Sure all suburbs are like that an extent, but Great Falls is so paranoid about people moving in that they won't even have a sewer system installed. They can close their eyes, put their fingers in their ears, and pretend that things are just fine across the rivers.

    As for race, I'm just amazed I found someplace whiter than where I grew up. When you have a town that's 98-plus percent white that doesn't want anyone else moving in...it's not racist, but it's not race-friendly either.

    As for the DC-hatred, I've long said that the city would be a better place to live if Maryland and Virginia treated the District as extensions of their respective state/commonwealth. Great Falls is an affront to that belief.

    But, really...Q.T.?

  20. And The New York Times is an exception to the reading level rule. You're right, they're at the 8th grade level.

  21. I know what you mean. i grew up in a whiter part of New England than you....

    Good points there....

  22. I can't believe I'm saying this, but where is the evidence that Great Falls wants to stay lilly white?

    For example, one of the more infamous Great Falls residents is Don Geronimo of the Don & Mike show, who talks all the time about peeing off his deck. Think he really cares the outraged neighbor is white or black?

    Lone Black Guy - LBG (Like the new handle?)

  23. I can't believe you had an entire post about this article and didn't even bring up the byline. LOOK AT THE BYLINE!!!!

  24. SHIT! Disregard the last message. I confused this article with the frontpage Billy Graham article (which is by Rusty favorite Laura Sessions Stepp). Probably because of the pretty pictures.

    It's been a long day, I'll leave now.

  25. The Billy Graham article was pretty pointless...I mean why is that story on the cover of the Post? But it didn't have enough of the trademark "LSS-ish-ness" to warrant one of my typically unfunny posts.

  26. I think if the average lot size is 20 acres, it makes more sense to use septic.

    That's a lot of pipe just to connect to your neighbors (probably very expensive) crapper.

  27. lincolnparkerDecember 13, 2006

    Unfair to whom? To you personally? Or is it just unfair in general that they live in luxury without putting up with all of the DC shittiness we deal with?

    To begin with, a lot of those folks work in Bethesda, Reston, Tysons, Falls Church, etc. Secondly, does everyone have to live where they work? Because I work in Shirlington, but I'm sure as hell not gonna live there. I don't believe that's at all "unfair."

    Believe me, they aren't closing their eyes and pretending things are fine across the river. They consider DC a rat-infested ghetto cesspool run by barely-literate bureaucrats and rabble-rousing boobs. Hence, they don't live here.

    So they want to keep Great Falls nice and bucolic. Fine by me.

    I lived around these types when I resided out in Wyoming. Those folks weren't rich, but they had that "my land is mine, and I like this area the way it is, I don't want it to change one bit, I'll do anything I can to preserve it, if you don't like it, fuck off" mentality.

    Needless to say, I loved Wyoming.

    As for Great Falls, they seem to be resisting the homogeonous suburban landscape you so often decry.

    How can you call your blog whyihatedc and then bemoan those people for not living here? I mean, if those people did live here, wouldn't you hate them, and hate the city, even more?

  28. You make a strong case. I'm caught in a negativity warp. I don't want them there and I don't want them here.

    Ok, you win.

  29. Am I retarded, or did you not bother posting a link to the article?

  30. lincolnparkerDecember 13, 2006

    Fair enough. I mean, I'm as bitter as the next guy, and I don't find any shortage of things to complain about around here.

    But when it comes to people who have nothing to do with me, I'm "live and let live" all the way.

  31. I didn't post a link to the article. I was only concerned with the headline.

  32. You all are missing Rusty's point, and the whole discussion as to why people might object to Great Falls remaining the way it is! The people there are living the good life, and it comes as a cost to you. That is, all of us who can't afford to live there. By keeping the lot sizes excessively large, they're ensuring that no one at 120%, or heck, even 175% of the median are income or below can afford to move in. You instead will have to schlep all the way out to Sterling or Gaithersburg to afford a house (or yes, you could get a $$ condo downtown, but many of us work in Bethesda or Tysons, like a previous commenter said) while those in Great Falls get to keep what they got-- close in location, access to major interstates, minutes from DC. It's complete denial of the fact that the DC area is growing, and that more housing needs to be built to accomodate that growth. This is Great Falls residents' way of saying, "F*&@ you," to all of us looking to buy a house anywhere near where we work (read: Tysons Corner, a major job center less than 5 miles away). People in Great Falls have their great houses and their expensive land, so why should they care about you? Gotta love those rich folk-- they don't mind change, so long as it happens anywhere else. They're just going to insulate themselves from change and from you and me as long as they can. Their refusal to install sewer lines virtually ensures that grow won't happen. Three cheers for the residents of Great Falls, blocking people of moderate incomes from moving in for decades!

  33. POW MIA HIV VIP @ LOVE IN NE DCDecember 13, 2006

    I dont understand how a bunch of HWEs can insult the YWFs without all of the GBMs not getting offended and calling their RFM's to complain about it. That just does not make sense.

  34. I majored in journalism in college and I don't understand how a newspaper like the Post could use QT in a headline either.

    Thank you, Rusty, for your observation.

    Someone must have been playing a joke and then it ended up in the paper somehow.

  35. Anonymous,

    Though I obviously agree with you, I think lincolnparker was right in pointing out that them living in Great Falls is probably better than if if they lived in Washington. And it's not like we can take their land and force them to develop it. Eminent Domain only applies to poor people.

  36. lincolnparkerDecember 14, 2006

    Ah, there it is...the old rich bogeyman is keeping me down.

    Forgive me for respecting private property.

    I'm sure if you worked your ass off and hit big time making megabucks and bought a house in great falls, you'd be a real thorn in the homeowners association.

    "You know folks, there aren't enough housing options for middle class families and frankly, it's all our fault. We are preventing Fairfax County from being developed. Hell, nearby Loudon County may as well be Idaho from the looks of it. What do you say we all sell a bunch of our land to a contractor. What Fairfax REALLY needs right now is a few more subdivisions and another mini-mall."

    I'm not buying it.

    I can remember when the ride to Dulles Airport was nothing but empty pastures. Construction cranes have been swinging nonstop in Nova for 30 years.

    What else has gone on for 30 years? Oh yeah, DC has emptied out. It used to have hundreds of thousands more people. Folks left because of high crime, awful schools and piss-poor governance.

    But the DC government's failure is Great Falls' fault too, right? Families don't want to live in DC, so Great Falls will have to suck it up and sell their property.

    Housing is damn espensive here, yeah. What can I say, it's a bitch.

    But there are swaths of affordable housing. In DC. East of 14th street. A lot of people who bitch could buy homes in places like Petworth, Brookland, Brentwood, and Hillcrest.

    What's that? A little too much "diversity" for you?

  37. lincolnparkerDecember 14, 2006

    Forgive me, that's "brightwood" not brentwood.

    I'm hung over.

  38. lincolnparker, I think I love you.

  39. Lincolnparker, I agree with you! You made some strong points and I backed off my position.

  40. "QT" is, more specifically, "quiet tongue" or "quiet tip"

  41. Great Falls will eventually get sewer but there's no good reason to go urbanize the place now either.

    What you're forgetting is that not everyone here is from someplace else. There are a lot of people in that area Great Falls / Mclean / Langley who have been around since Tysons's II was a cow field. So it's not like these areas are somehow exclusively filled with a gang of people who're moving in and somehow slighting some noble developer who's trying to bring affordable housing to the prolitariat masses...

    The area is also a hell of a lot more diverse than you have any clue about. That's one of the nice things about it actually. What you think that all the people from all the countries in the world who end up here due to proximity to the Embassies are going to live downtown?

    Somehow, DC's gritty urbanism, crime, and general stupidity holds no appeal for these folks, and so over the years they've settled in NoVa, many in and around Great Falls.

    It's also nice to have your kids be able to go to schools where the language diversity is so great that it's a major issue in education. Living and working in that type of environment is a lot different than doing it in one that insists on carrying around a lot of biases.

    Property values in the area are vastly overinflated, and the market has cooled a great deal as a result. Not putting in sewer should help curb the inflation some as well, and that'd be good for the health of the property market locally.

    Not everyone in the area surrounding is rich either, by any stretch. Yea, there are a pile of people who are, but in the long run about all they manage is to annoy the rest of us.