"It's a Guaranteed Failure"

I know that it can be hard to read long articles on New Year's Eve. Read this anyways.

Budget issues and incompetence have left DC schools with out of control maintenance costs. This has been going on for ten years. Reading shit like this makes me miserable:

At Spingarn Senior High School in Northeast, the Corps put in four new boilers and pipe work in 2001 for about $3.9 million, records show. The units now sit in pools of rusty water, beyond repair.

And that's just one example out of many.

DC has its fair share of defenders. People who claim to love this city. Well, I'd bet those people aren't willing to let their kids go to school here. What a disgrace.



I am going to set the JetBlue corporate offices on fire.

My trip from Dulles to my doorstep only took 22 fucking hours. That included a stay, at my expense, at the Dulles Hilton.

And now here I am at Logan Airport. My flight is delayed, again. And the flight I'm catching in New York City is delayed as well. So, in the span of less than a week, all four JetBlue flights I was scheduled to take have been severely delayed. Fantastic.

Well, I hope everyone else got/gets home in a timely fashion.

Any suggestions on how to kill time in an airport? I mean, there's only so much pizza, Burger King, and Dunkin' Donuts a man can eat.


Merry Christmas, You Turtle Assholes

El Oh El!

I'm willing to bet my alma mater resisted the urge to riot. We act like we've been there before. Even when we haven't since 1927.


To Catch an Officer

Oh dear. Metro Police Officer Kenneth Longerbeam (lol) was arrested on allegations that he tried setting up a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old boy. Longerbeam is 39.

Officer Longerbeam has been on the force for 11 years. In December 2005 he was awarded an achievement medal, which is given to employees who bring great credit to the police department.

Great credit? Can the MPD call backsies?

"Officer Longerbeam is innocent until proven guilty," said Police Chief Cathy Lanier in a statement. "If these allegations are found to be true, Officer Longerbeam's tenure at MPD will certainly be called into question."

Way to go out on a limb there, Chief. If those allegations are found to be true, you're willing to call his employment into question? If I asked my bosses what they'd do if I got caught trying to diddle a 14-year-old, I'm guessing they'd go several degrees beyond an employment review.

The same police department that won't accept people who smoked pot years ago* should probably get their priorities straight. Someone who has smoked pot once in college make better officers than alleged pedophiles. You don't have to have a criminal justice degree for that to be blindingly obvious.

*The MPD now has a tougher employment policy on past marijuana use than a little outfit called the FBI.


Even More Blame to Throw Around!

It's starting to look like Natwar Gandhi is on the way out. Congress refused to approve a massive $92,450 raise for the embattled Chief Financial Officer who played his fiddle while the largest scam in city history was right under his nose. Gandhi keeps firing or asking for the resignations of anyone who failed to catch the scam. Except for himself of course. Looking out for Numero Uno.

But his failure to obtain a 50% increase in pay is a not so subtle hint that it's time for Gandhi to give the private sector a try. That moment can not come soon enough. Gandhi pulled this city up from fiscal embarrassment only to drop us back to square one. Well, to be fair, square two or three. But most of the progress attributed to Gandhi has been wasted.

Meanwhile, the size and scope of the real estate tax scandal keeps getting bigger. The FBI now think this scam dates back to 1990. That encompasses all of Gandhi's time in the city and then some. Jesus Christ, I was only seven years old! This is a pre-"bitch set me up" scandal. This scandal pre-dates Jamie-Lynn Spears.

The city's failures never cease to amaze me. This is shameful.


That'll Show Em!

Man does it suck that DC doesn't get Congressional representation. I mean, we've tried everything. Protests. Putting silly slogans on our license plates. What's left to be done?

Oh, right. Dumping leaves into the Potomac.

I mean, call me a fuddy-duddy, but this all seems like too much too soon. Is exercising our right to vote really worth rocking the boat this violently? Have we finally gone too far?


Metro Fare Hike

I have no problem with the Metro fare hikes. No, really. They don't really affect me personally since I can just wake up ten minutes earlier and take the bus. I imagine commuters who park-and-ride may feel differently. Well, someone had to get hosed. Might as well be the people who can afford cars.

And the thing is, we may all end up saving money in the long run. How? Well, Metro gave itself way too much credit and dropped this bombshell:

...the board adopted a suggestion by Maryland board member Gordon Linton to consider refunds to customers when service does not meet certain criteria. Metro staff members have been directed to recommend a specific service guarantee policy.

We all know a guarantee makes a man feel good. But what exactly will the Guarantee Fairy drop behind our pillows? Here are my suggestions:

1. Stop charging people who enter the gates and immediately leave. This policy is stupid. I shouldn't have to pay $1.35 to enter and gate and immediately leave when I notice the clusterfuck at the bottom of the escalators.

2. Issue a refund if an unreported elevator outage forces a disabled passenger to travel to a different stop. This should be a no-brainer.

3. You know how Metro estimates the time of travel between two stops? Well, if your trip takes 15 minutes longer than advertised, that trip should be free. This will probably cripple Metro since they are unable to maintain anything close to resembling consistent service, but a man can dream.

If they start offering refunds for these little disasters, I'll be pleased. This guarantee might be the start of something good.



Who am I kidding? It'll still be the same old shit.


Work Annoyances

Without being too specific, let me tell you a little about the building where my office is. One notable feature is that it has stairs.

That's right, folks. Stairs!

So I'd like to send a warm holiday message to all of the assholes who use the elevators to travel one fucking floor:


It's not like these people are in bad health or anything. They're just lazy assholes.

And I know that this isn't DC related or anything, but these people need to be stopped at all costs. I hope next time a group of these fuckers make their little one floor sojourn that the building sets on fire and they get stuck. There'll be less human traffic when I run down the stairs to safety. No one will miss them.

OK. Rant off.

Let's finish with something a little more hopeful. I voted for Anacostia today. Did you?


I Still hate the WMATA

I kind of stopped writing about the Metro since, well, it's like shooting fish in a barrel. But the last 24 hours have kind of represented every single thing I hate about public transportation.

1. Monday morning, 8:30am. Friendship Heights. In the middle of rush hour, the next train isn't scheduled to arrive for another six minutes. Great. That means either I miss the train because it's already packed or I get to smash myself in the train like a sardine.

But, no! There is a third option! When the train was two minutes away, it disappeared off the board. When it reappeared, it did so as a dreaded "No Passengers" train. A people train wouldn't arrive for, you guessed it, another six minutes. Fifteen minutes and three trains later I finally got on a train with enough room for me to stand.

2. Monday night, 9:30pm. Woodley Park-slash-Adams Morgan-slash-National Zoo. After catching a screening of Juno in Bethesda, I headed to Woodley Park. In typical Metro fashion, one of the escalators was down. But as long as two were operational, no harm, no foul. Right?

Well, unless both escalators are moving the same fucking direction. And that direction is not up. Ugh. I remember complaining about the Tenley escalators being down for a week and people mocking me for getting tired on the way up.

Well, the Woodley Park escalators are way worse than Tenley's. That death march to above ground sucked. I felt bad for the older Metro riders who had to take breaks on the way up.

3. Tuesday morning, 8:30am. 16th Street. Alright, 16th Street! That means no subway. Just a bus that comes every five minutes. Except when it doesn't. And then the next one doesn't either. What the Hell? Finally, after a 15 minute wait, not one, not two, not even three, but FOUR buses pull up. FOUR BUSES! Naturally, two were packed and the other two were empty. What a startlingly inefficient way to get people to work.

So, in case you were wondering, the Metro is still a piece of shit.


More Money Out the Door

I complain about the stadium deal an awful lot. I mean, $611,000,000 of public money is an unprecedented amount of moolah to spend on a baseball stadium. And who knows if it will revitalize the Anacostia waterfront. But maybe I should give it a break. I mean, it's an unacceptable amount of money, but at least we're getting something tangible in return.

The same can't be said for the estimated $44,000,000 we lost through fraud. That money went to Bentleys and Louis Vuitton handbags. And the same can be said for the estimated $17,000,000 we lost through managerial incompetence. That's how much money the D.C. Inspector General thinks we lost when the D.C. Office of Contracting and Procurement started offering no-bid contracts to the company that processes our traffic tickets.

We've been using this company, ACS State and Local Solutions, for 23 years. So, I guess out of loyalty?, they named their price and we gave it to them. No questions asked.

Worse yet, the contracts were granted without the consent of the DC Council. This is a no-no. The DC Council has to approve city contracts over one millions dollars. So, beyond being merely wasteful, this also fails the smell test.

[Chief Procurement Officer David P.] Gragan was appointed by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty in June. The principal contracting officer involved with the sole-source contract awarded to ACS is no longer employed by the District, Gragan said.

Hmmm. Since everyone involved in the tax fraud fiasco is going up the river, can we expect the same for our unnamed contracting officer? If he (or she) wasted $17,000,000 out of incompetence, shouldn't he be incarcerated for that? There is no way anyone can convince me that these contracts were awarded in good faith. At best it was incompetence. At worst, malfeasance. Both possibilities should end up with the cotnracting officer having to answer to a criminal court.

Regardless, I am sick of hearing about the ways this city can, for all intents and purposes, set money on fire.


Vehicular Homicide

So a Metrobus in Rockville hit and killed a man named Tao Sun. He reportedly was jaywalking outside of a crosswalk (redundant, I know). That sucks and all, but an accident is an accident. These things happen. Especially when you're running across a parkway.

Except, of course, those preliminary reports were incorrect. Sun was indeed in the middle of a crosswalk when he was struck and killed.

This shit never happens to the Maryland Ride-On buses, by the way. Metrobuses are almost always responsible for the killing. Why is that? Does DC just have the touch of death?

Which brings me to the news that former Metrobus driver Victor Kolako was sentenced to one year in jail for killing two pedestrians who had the right of way on Pennsylvania Avenue.

I don't know how long this has been available or if I'm the last to see this, but this "accident" happened outside The National Archives Building. Meaning, there's video.

And here it is.

That link will take you to a warning page that has a link directly to the video. Now, despite the warning, it isn't particularly graphic. It is particularly unsettling. These deaths should never have happened. One year in jail is not enough.

The husband of one of the victims is suing the city for $50,000,000.00. He deserves every last cent.


Link Dumping is Easier Than Writing

I don't really know enough about NAFTA to formulate an opinion on it one way or another. I don't think I'm alone here. It's pretty difficult terrain.

So I read today's Washington Post editorial criticizing Democrat candidates for denouncing NAFTA with an open mind. Maybe I'll learn something!

Oh, silly me.

The American Prospect
(h/t Ezra Klein) rips the piece to shreds. It's absolutely shameful. The piece fails to adjust for inflation when looking at Mexico's economic growth. This is indescribably crazy. (Shame on me for not immediately catching this.) Worse yet, this goes beyond incompetence of the Post's editorial board. This is dishonesty.

As Ezra points out, "remarkably the editorial gets worse from there, cherrypicking poverty statistics, ignoring GDP growth, sidestepping distribution, and so on, and so forth."

Now, I don't really care about NAFTA. I mean, I care about the American worker and all that jazz, but NAFTA doesn't fire me up as much as it should. If NAFTA supporters and detractors want to go at it in the comments, by all means go nuts. My issue is with a newspaper with a national presence being so irresponsible and resorting to a variety of half-truths. I'd almost prefer they go back to writing about eagles.

Oh For Chrissakes


(h/t DCist)


The Wealthy Have Permission to Drink Singles

First, full disclosure. I am a former employee of Whole Foods and I frequently shop and buy beer at the P Street/Logan Circle Whole Foods. Had to get that out of the way.

I know I said I'd ignore anything that the Washington City Paper publishes, but this was just too rich. I don't know how familiar you are with the Logan Circle Whole Foods, but it's located in the middle of a neighborhood that has gentrified rapidly. Many of the businesses there predate this change.

Well the Logan Circle ANC thinks that those businesses, namely liquor stores, can just go on and fuck themselves.

Whole Foods has long been selling singles of beer. Fancy beer, but beer nevertheless. Singles are actually illegal in parts of the city. Ward 4, Mount Pleasant, and Adams Morgan come to mind. Logan Circle is apparently one of those parts.

And the ANC cut Whole Foods a break. They can continue to sell singles. They have permission. But the liquor store on the very same block is still prohibited from selling single servings of beer. Guess what color of people Whole Foods tends to appeal to and contrast it to an old liquor store in a black neighborhood. Hmmm.

I mean, I get it. This is fancy beer and the singles laws are primarily designed to prevent people from buying 40s. Since they don't make organic Steel Reserve High Gravity yet (and I long for that day), Whole Foods isn't in the business of selling malt liquor.

But getting it doesn't mean it's right. You have one rule being applied differently to two different businesses. Unacceptable. If you want to allow Whole Foods to sell singles of beer, then change the law and apply it equally to both businesses. Maybe prevent stores from selling singles with an abv above 7% (although this would crush Indian Pale Ale single sales) or only outlaw singles between 24 and 40 ounces. But don't give one a break just because it has "fancier" customers.

The "us and them" dichotomy in this city is falling apart. When the rich and poor mix, it's good to know who this city is really looking out for.



Nothing interrupts the hangover from a week of gluttony like a reminder of what kind of city we actually live in.

The "one in twenty DC residents have HIV" statistic has been bandied about ever since I moved here in 2001. It's such a devastating thing to hear and there's such a great temptation to dismiss that as unlikely. I mean, that's over 100,000 27,000 people!* And, yeah, it looks like that could be the truth.

Jesus Christ.

The District's AIDS rate is the worst of any city in the country, nearly twice the rate in New York and more than four times the incidence in Detroit, and it has been climbing faster than that of many jurisdictions.


But the data made public today expose an alarming dimension of pediatric HIV. Each of the three dozen District children to test positive in the past five years was infected during birth.

"This is a line that should be zero"

I added that last excerpt because it shows how far behind we are in dealing with this epidemic. People aren't getting tested and they're harming their children as a result.

Although the spread of HIV and AIDS in Washington is mostly limited to the city's black community, the number of new HIV and AIDS cases for other ethnic groups over the past few years is still in the hundreds. And if there's anyone out there still deluded enough to think of HIV as a "gay disease," please note that heterosexual sexual contact is spreading the disease at a greater rate than homosexual sexual contact. So, no one is safe.

When's the last time you got tested?

*Ugh, I am an idiot. I got so riled up over the "1 in 20" thing that I went with 20% and this obviously very, very wrong. Stupid mental fart. Sorry.


A Sad Farewell

So, back in the day there were these Guitar Hero contests at Wonderland. These contests - and let me remind you I am still defending champion - preceded a little event called Evil Disco. Evil Disco was a dance party that features some of the best rock 'n' roll around. It was a place where you could belt your best Bruce Dickinson scream minutes after a drunken sing along of Motley Crue's "Home Sweet Home."

Eventually the party moved to the Black Cat. That meant no more Guitar Hero which meant my attendance became more sporadic.

This event, hosted by the incomparable DJ Hey Sailor, is soon to be no more. Tonight is the final Evil Disco before Hey Sailor moves to Los Angeles. I can't convey what a loss this is for the city. The best way to describe it is to go for yourself tonight at the Black Cat. There's a five dollar cover. I promise you it's worth it and you will not be disappointed.

Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend. I'm spending the weekend here. I just wanted to use this bully pulpit here to urge you all to go and to wish Hey Sailor the utmost success on the West Coast.

Even a city you hate, you find some things you love. Losing one of those things hurts. Bad.

By the way, when is a bar going to start having Guitar Hero III contests? I think the time has come.



So, the biggest corruption scandal in city history was even worse than what was originally announced. The 16 million dollars that was stolen has since doubled. $31,700,000.00 has been stolen in a scam that stretches back to Saint Natwar Gandhi's tenure as Deputy Chief Financial Officer for Tax and Revenue.

To get an idea of the scale of this scam, think of this: Of all the real estate tax refunds issued by the city in the past three years, over half of them were phony. Why did it take a bank teller in Bowie to notice something so obvious?

Chief Financial Officer Gandhi asked for the resignation of the people who signed or failed to notice the phony refund checks when news of the scandal broke. It turns out that this operation has been going since at least 1999. Guess who was signing the checks back then.

I'm a little torn on what to think here. Gandhi, by all accounts, has been a great asset to this city. His careful control of the District's budget has greatly improved the city's finances and bond rating. Losing his services would be a pretty substantial risk.

Or would it? The last week has proven that Gandhi isn't nearly as competent as we previously thought. And, frankly, I want some more heads to roll. When you're signing more than one fraudulent check for every legitimate refund check, the problem is unbelievably severe.

Gandhi set the correct precedent when he demanded the resignations of his check-signing inferiors at the Office of Tax and Revenue. Gandhi should follow through on that standard by resigning himself. There is no excuse for such massive incompetence. $31,700,000 isn't peanuts. It's time for him to go.


This is How Far Off the Rails She Is

Ok, the great Laura Sessions Stepp blow out tomorrow is at capacity. I did not get in. Well, I didn't try since I had dinner plans. But, hopefully, someone who visits this site got a pass. I mean, there were only, like, 30 people at her last appearance at the Arlington Library and 60 people at her book singing at Politics and Prose. Both times I ran into a reader. So, one of you got in, right? Please?

At the very least I plan on DVRing the shit out of this.

I'm really posting to bring more attention to a comment I received from EJ Takes Life:

Did you happen to catch who was co-sponsoring this "discussion?" The Cardinal Newman Society (Catholic college society sponsoring "a program to re-establish chastity as the cornerstone of Catholic campus culture") and the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute, a charming organization whose homepage is currently extolling the virtues of Phyllis Schlafly, "the first to defeat the radical feminists."

How exactly does LSS, who is supposed to be a journalist with at least some modicum of impartiality, justify headlining an event that blatantly trumpets a religiously and socially conservative agenda? Especially because she is identified in promotional materials first as "Washington Post reporter" and not as the author of retro modesty lit.

The Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute's website is appropriately fantastic. Is that Ann Coulter on the homepage? Good Lord, it is. This is the kind of organization that comes out with columns titled "Want Protection from Breast Cancer? Have Some Babies." If I had seen that without any context I would have assumed it was an Onion headline.

Terri, my lady friend who accompanied me on my last LSS party crash, also wanted me to highlight this from the description of the discussion tomorrow night:

Many college campuses across the country report rising numbers of sexual assaults, date rapes, and sexually-transmitted infections. And there is reason to believe the "hook up" culture - the prevalence of sexual activity with "no strings attached" - is affecting students' mental health. Are students today well-educated about healthy relationships?

That's right, college ladies. Since you keep getting rapes and assaulted, maybe you should try to educate yourself about healthy relationships.

I know sound like a skipping record every time I start talking about Laura Sessions Stepp, but I just can't help myself. This woman, with her dangerously old timey ideals and her complete lack of journalistic integrity, always claims to be a feminist. Again, please click on the Clare Booth Lucy website. What kind of feminist would support them?



I hate Friday evening posts. No one ever reads them. But this is important.


View Larger Map

Here's the dilly:

Many college campuses across the country report rising numbers of sexual assaults, date rapes, and sexually-transmitted infections. And there is reason to believe the "hook up" culture -- the prevalence of sexual activity with "no strings attached" -- is affecting students’ mental health.

Are students today well-educated about healthy relationships? Are college administrators taking the right approach to reducing health risks? On November 13, five experts will come together to discuss the state of affairs on campus -- and some modest proposals.

Laura Sessions Stepp is a Washington Post writer and author of Unhooked (2007). Dr. Miriam Grossman is a campus psychiatrist at UCLA and author of Unprotected (2006). Wendy Shalit is author of A Return to Modesty (1999) and Girls Gone Mild (2007). Cassandra DeBenedetto is a recent graduate of Princeton University and founder of Princeton's Anscombe Society. Dawn Eden is director of the Cardinal Newman Society's Love and Responsibility Program and author of The Thrill of the Chaste (2007).

Oh man. This looks amazing. And they're serving wine and cheese. Of course, I, with considerable help, confronted Stepp only two weeks ago. Surely she remembers my handsome mug. So, people, I need your help.

REGISTRATION: You must register to attend this event.
E-mail: send your name and affiliation to mrybak@eppc.org.
Fax: your name and affiliation to (202) 408-0632, with attention to Mary Rose Rybak.

What should I choose as my affiliation?

What should you choose as your affilation?

Seriously, this shit is B-A-N-A-N-A-S. Five pro-chastity women gathering around and offering "modest proposals" on how women should stop being such sluts. (Oh please God let LSS suggest baking cookies.) And they're going to be airing this drivel on C-SPAN. So, let's crash this motherfucker and give the nice people over at C-SPAN a show.


No, I Haven't Ignored This

I've spent the last few days writing about my two pet causes: Laura Sessions Stepp and the Nationals stadium fiasco. But those two obvious targets haven't been the only source of embarrassment for the city in the past few days. I of course am referring to one of the greatest corruption scandals in city history.

When I started paying attention to local matters, one of the first things I noticed was that there was only one really untouchable figure in local politics. That would be Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi. Gandhi is credited with greatly improving the health of DC's economy and keeping the local budget under control since taking the position in 2000.

Well, it hasn't been a good week for him.

First The Washington Post wrote an editorial chiding him for his handling of the city's $79,000,000 loan to Specialty Hospitals of America to keep open Greater Southeast Community Hospital. This editorial was faintly damning. The real bad news dropped yesterday.

That's right, folks. The biggest corruption scandal in DC history!

Two mid-level D.C. government employees used phony paperwork to collect more than $16 million from illegal tax refunds, avoiding detection for at least three years while issuing more than 40 checks cashed by friends and family members in on the scam, prosecutors said yesterday.

By day, Harriette Walters and Diane Gustus worked at the District's Office of Tax and Revenue. In their free time, prosecutors said, they worked with others to raid the city's treasury to stock up on luxury items including fancy cars, homes, furs, precious jewelry, designer handbags and clothing. Walters alone spent more than $1.4 million at Neiman Marcus, according to charging papers.

Gandhi oversees the Office of Tax and Revenue. His inferiors were doing, and this is being charitable, a pretty poor job. No one at the office realized what was going on. In fact, the whole thing was spotted by a bank teller who refused to cash a crooked $410,000 check. That check, along with many others, was signed by office director Sherryl Hobbs Newman. Newman, along with other DC bureaucrats, are being forced to resign for failing to catch what should have been obvious.

Honestly, when one of your employees making $81,000 annually and driving around in a $160,000 Bentley asks you to sign a $350,000 check, that should have raised a few dozen red flags.

It took ten years of mostly excellent service, but it looks like the luster of DC's greatest bureaucrat is beginning to fade. We can't fire him without DC Council and Congressional approval (not that I'm suggesting we should go that course), but he's starting to give them some pretty potent ammunition.

This Investment is Paying Off!

The DC Council is pissed. Why? Well, as you may have heard, the Council, in its infinite wisdom, decided to give away $611,000,000.00 to build that fancy passable new baseball stadium by the Navy Yard. It's the most expensive baseball stadium ever cashing in at over $90,000,000.00 more than second place Safeco Field in Seattle. And don't give me that malarkey about how expensive New Yankee Stadium and Citi Field are going to be. Yeah, they will dwarf the new DC stadium's price tag. But half the funding of those billion dollar stadiums are being paid by the Yankees and Mets respectively. Not to mention New York City actually charges both teams rent. This DC monstrosity is being paid with, and only with, public money.

So, the DC Council fell over itself trying to get a baseball team. This despite the fact that Northern Virginia was more than willing to pony up for the team. I understand the need to develop along the Anacostia River, but past stadiums have had mixed records of vitalizing city neighborhoods. Sure, we can point to the Verizon Center as a success story, but those success stories are the exception rather than the rule. The city was taking a huge risk.

The risk was especially huge since the National were going to be a regional team. I've always argued that living in Bethesda or Alexandria was really no different than living by Dupont Circle. It's all the DC Metro Area. And those Bethesda and Alexandria residents are going to end up rooting for the Nationals.

So, I guess the Council should be pissed when the Nationals host their annual black-tie dinner in PG County and host their "FanFest" in Bethesda. After all, how much money did Maryland shell out for the team? And their hotels and businesses get to reap the benefits? It's a dick move by the team.


"We gave them a $611 million free stadium. I think that entitles us to have their gala at our businesses," council member Carol Schwartz (R-At Large) said.

The problem isn't what DC is entitled to. The problem is that we paid that much money for a team that was, rightfully, going to exploit the Maryland and Virginia markets. The whole point of having a team in Washington is the access to wealthy suburbanites in one of the fastest growing regions in America.

Emily Durso, president of the Hotel Association of Washington, D.C., said she learned about a month ago of the team's plans and called Nationals executives. "I said, 'Please tell me this isn't true.' "

"They're moving all of the events to the suburbs," she said. "The Bethesda one was, like, uh-oh, is this a trend? I've told them we understand that they are a regional team, but the hotels here pay for the stadium."

Yes they do. Sucks to be you. Further proof that the legislation giving away $611,000,000.00 was the worst kind of bullshit. We were operating under the assumption that whoever bought the team would give a shit about the city. They don't. They give a shit about the area. And when you're living in an area as restrictively small as DC, then there is no reason to fund these teams. The R*d*k*ns play in PG County and no one acts like they aren't Washington's team. We could have done the same for the Nationals. I hope Linda Cropp, Jack Evans, and Anthony Williams are all enjoying their crow.


She is Like Michael Myers. She Will Not Die.

Thanks to an excellent catch by a vigilant reader, this Wall Street Journal article was brought to my attention. It's by some dude named Jeff Zaslow. He is completely unfamiliar to me. But, the article is about how the kids aren't alright. And, if you were writing a column from that retarded point of view, who would you ask for advice?

Oh God. Why won't she go away.

Yes, we have a Laura Sessions Stepp sighting! Huzzah!

So, this Zaslow column is about his daughter getting invited to homecoming by a boy. They dress up, buy flowers, do all the stupid high school shit, and then never go to the actual dance. They just hang out on their own. This is the end of civilization to Zaslow. Why, back in his day, dating meant something! You had to ask a girl on Wednesday for a Saturday date! There was none of this text messaging tomfoolery.

Honestly, reading this, you expect Zaslow to be upset that the children no longer wear onions on their belt (as was the style of his time).

And in case you're too lazy to click on the WSJ link and you think I'm being over-the-top:

Obviously, boys no longer have to call girls on Wednesday for a Saturday date. Now, college boys seeking weekend hookups send girls "U busy?" text messages at 2 or 3 a.m., and girls routinely rouse themselves and go, according to Ms. Stepp's research. Many girls spend the next day clutching their cellphones, waiting in vain for the boy to call.

These girls need to get a different hobby.

I am pissed that Zaslow didn't put the word "research" in scare quotes. Following, like, seven ludicrously wealthy women (and one token poor high school student being statutorily raped by a Metro bus driver) is not research. Those are anecdotes. Anecdotes from the coddled and immature. Anecdotes from daughters whose mothers don't let their children hang out with black kids (and this is presented as good parenting!) and who buy their daughters trips to the Bahamas when they've had a rough semester because that frat boy didn't call back.

Honestly, why is Laura Sessions Stepp considered an expert on the subject of teenage sexuality? A piece she edited won a Pulitzer. Fine. But that was a piece on textiles for Christ's sake. Since then she's been cruising on that stupid award and writing about something that she doesn't have any fucking experience in. Well, other than following around her small self-selected sample of desperate young adults who need men to justify their existence.

God damn it. If I had the time I would find eight happy well-adjusted high school and college students and follow them around for a few months. Then I would be outraged when I didn't get my book deal.

The column has some other gems. The conclusion is fantastic.

As the father of three daughters, I wish that more parents of sons would talk to their boys about being respectful, and about the thrill that can come from holding hands. Those of us with daughters need to tell them that empowerment is less about sexual freedom and more about recognizing their true feelings.

The "thrill that can come from holding hands"? Jesus Christ.

It is too bad that my daughter and her friends didn't demand that the boys take them to homecoming. Yes, they risked being dumped for easier girls. But maybe the boys would have gotten the message and, as promised, graciously escorted their dates to the dance.

I'm pretty far separated from days as a 16-year-old high school student. Well, I do remember not getting any. So if I had to choose between holding hands and the "easier girls," then, no, I wouldn't have gotten that message.

Another thing I remember about homecoming dances was that I never attended one. Not because I was trying to get into some girl's pants in a dark basement, but because, in the words of the reader who e-mailed me this article, homecoming is "a bullshit WASPy ritual of jocks, popularity, and getting laid in the car afterward, that requires a lot of money be spent on tickets, clothes, and dinner."

This is the tradition that "concerned parents" like Zaslow and LSS want to save? Hey, I get it that Zaslow's daughter was pissed that she was invited to homecoming and never went to the dance. That's a legitimate beef. But to equate that with the Great Hooking-Up Epidemic is beyond a stretch. Using LSS as intellectual backup is where the fabric starts to rip.

Of course, if Zaslow's daughter had too much to drink and got "gray raped" in this boy's basement, perhaps he wouldn't be so quick to call up Stepp for advice.

Let this be a warning to writers! If you use Laura Sessions Stepp as a way to advance some theory or observation you have, then your theory or observation is hopelessly wrong. And my readers will find you.


Higher Learning

I was a stupider person back when I was a freshman in college. Who wasn't? It's not far-fetched to assume that we've all made stupid decisions that we now regret back when we were 17 or 18.

But nothing quite as stupid as what Sarah Marshak did.

Marshak is a freshman at George Washington. She is Jewish. Her Facebook networks are "GWU '11" and "Israel." I mention that because the "Israel" network implies that she strongly identifies with her Jewish heritage. So, surely she should know how powerful and ugly hate crimes are. And her acceptance into George Washington implies that she isn't an idiot.

So why she decided to get herself involved in a hate crime hoax is absolutely beyond me.

Marshak claims that someone legitimately started drawing swastikas on her whiteboard. She was unhappy with how GW was handling it so she started drawing her own swastikas to get the investigation to hurry along. If true, that is jaw-droppingly stupid. Hey, Sarah, was that worth the possibility of expulsion?

Marshak said Tara W. Pereira, director of SJS, informed her she would likely be expelled. Marshak said she did not want to leave GW but probably will.

Good! Marshak has made it harder for real victims of hate crimes to come forward. Every swastika and noose will now be met with an unfair dose of skepticism. Much like the Durham woman who made those false rape allegations against the Duke lacrosse team, Marshak has made it that much harder for people being terrorized to come forward. Was that really worth it, Sarah? You fucking dunce.

Another student was caught Saturday night in relation to the drawing of swastikas, the word "niggers" and the text "white power" in New Hall.

What exactly is going on over at George Washington? When did George Washington become Columbus University? If you're wandering around Foggy Bottom and you see someone who looks like Michael Rapaport, RUN!!


Most Expensive Cabs in the Country? Fuck.

Well, all my bellyaching over the DC Taxi Commission's zone system yielded great results. The big bad zone system is finally dead! Meters for all! Huzzah!

Of course, it was kind of assumed that when we made the switch that the meter pricing wouldn't be so god damned expensive.

DC is going to have the most expensive taxis in the country. Fucking awesome. A four dollar drop rate, five dollars in rush hour!, is too much. That's in addition to the costs of waiting around in traffic and being charged $1.50 a mile.

As expected, meters will be cheaper on short rides and more expensive on longer trips. No surprise there. But, according to the Post, the shorter trips are only a little less expensive while long trips can get pricey in a hurry. Is that worth the transparency and reliability that meters provide? Maybe. Here's my solution:

A good way to make some of the money back is to ask your cabbie if they went on strike on Halloween. If they answer in the affirmative, I feel pretty comfortable not tipping them. Throwing a hissy fit and refusing to pick up people on one of the busiest drinking nights of the year was incredibly irresponsible. I'm a former union man and I respect a good strike, but this does not apply. This has "bad strike" written all over it.

Meters are going to be more expensive. Cabbies weren't striking for more money. They weren't striking for more autonomy since the prices were already set by the DC taxi Commission. They were striking to maintain the ability to rip commuters off. And for that I offer them a big hearty "fuck you." The three dollars I could have tipped them will buy me a delicious Schlitz at DC9 or a Yuengling at Red Derby. The owners of these fine establishments (srsly, Red Derby is fantastic) deserve the money more than someone willing to put public safety at risk just to keep a hopelessly corrupt system.

So, yeah, the meters are going to suck hard. It's worth it to me.


Pandering Assholes

While I was on Cape I got an angry call and text message from my friend regarding the Red Sox. Well, not the Red Sox, but rather Rhino Bar.

I hate Rhino Bar. Hate, hate, hate. I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: I hate the Georgetown crowd, I hate Georgetown prices, and I hate Georgetown collars. The last time I went to Rhino was for the Patriots-Eagles Super Bowl. The place considers itself to be a big Eagles bar so my friend and I got there first to be contrarian assholes and celebrate after the Eagles inevitably lost.

The thing is, the place is a Red Sox bar too. That's right. Check out the bottom of their website. The place affiliates itself with the Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Eagles, Syracuse Orange, Ohio State Buckeyes, and the Penn State Nittany Lions. The last two teams are especially egregious since they're conference rivals. That's like being a R***kins and Cowboys bar.

So, Rhino has a huge banner on their balcony. "Go Red Sox!" and other stuff like that. So my friend wants to go to Rhino and get good and toasted on Saturday night while watching the game with his fellow Sox fans.

Except Rhino refuses to show the game.

The bar with a gigantic Red Sox banner is only showing the Penn State-Ohio State football game on Saturday night. I guess two loyalties playing each other somehow trumpets the World Fucking Series.

I don't ask for sympathy. Boston sports fans certainly don't need it. A lot of Internet space has been devoted to talking about just how good it must feel to root for Boston teams in 2007. And, man, it does feel good.

Red Sox fans, especially the countless "pink hats" that sprouted up after 2004, are a dime-a-dozen. They're so dime-a-dozen that I understand why a bar would want to tap into that fan base. But inorganic sports allegiances disgust me. And Rhino, just like almost every other Georgetown bar, is strikingly inorganic.


The B30 Be Unreliable

I apologize for that post title. That's a joke only my father would laugh at.

I also apologize for my prolonged absence. I spent the last couple of days on Cape Cod and decided to avoid the Internet.

Whenever I have to make a trip of this magnitude, I fly into Logan Airport. Because I'm cheap, I swallow the inconvenience of getting to BWI instead of Dulles or National. There's a bus, the B30, that takes passengers from Greenbelt to the airport for only three dollars. Three dollars! What a steal! Eat that MARC, what with your pricey five dollar train rides just to catch a fucking shuttle!

And I can use my SmarTrip card too!? This is going to be fucking awesome!

My error was as clear as day. I have no idea why I assumed the Metro buses in PG County would be any more dependable than the Metro buses within the District. What a stupid decision.

I had to take the 9:20am B30 to get to my 11:00am flight. I get to the bus stop at around nine just in case. I waited for a fucking hour. An hour!! The bus was 40 minutes late with no sign of its arrival.

At this point I'm panicking and I have to take a cab to BWI. That set me back an extra $20. So, basically, I could have just taken a flight out of Dulles or National and have broken even with more piece of mind.

The best part of this was when my companion called Metro to see what was up. They reported extreme traffic difficulties.

There was no traffic in either direction.


There's "champagne" in my hair.


Read It and Weep

It's not just me. It's everyone.

I guess I should point out that high numbers are bad. The scale goes from one (the best) to 25.


Same Old Song and Dance

I know I'm way behind on this, but with all the crashing of mentoring fairs and hospitals refusing to administer rape kits, I've managed to neglect my favorite whipping boy: Metro.

So last January a train derailed by the Mount Vernon station on the Green and Yellow Lines. 20 people were hurt and there was $4 million worth of damage. Sure it's less than one percent of an overpriced baseball stadium, but it's not chump change either. It's not like Metro has money to spare.

What could have prevented the derailment? Well, a $150,000 guardrail. That would have saved some cash. Oh, and maybe a little less of the institutional neglect that has made our subways underground death traps.

Failure to keep up with basic maintenance and refusal to take safety steps recommended for years by internal and external reviews were the likely causes of a Metro derailment at the Mount Vernon Square station that injured 20 people in January, federal investigators said yesterday.

Geez, that's not good. But here's the truly scary part:

After the hearing, Metro officials pledged to make installation of the guardrail a top priority. Officials said they had not done so earlier because similarly configured locations had equipment that was more worn-out than Mount Vernon Square's and needed to be replaced sooner. The transit agency has 100 other spots that still need safeguards because of curved track. Metro officials have installed guardrails at 83 trouble spots.

Emphasis is mine. 100 other spots! 100 other Dead Man's Curves! 100! There are more dangerous curves than stops! 100!!!!!

So, yeah, the last 10 years have been nothing but people telling Metro how to keep the subways safe and Metro ignoring them. That's awesome.


Ladies, Be Afraid

I'm loathe to link to student papers, especially the student paper that started this "gray rape" nonsense, but this article in the GW Hatchet is absolutely terrifying. (h/t Feministing)

This is basically a sequel to the unspeakably horrible case of David Rosenbaum. Remember him? He was co-murdered by two muggers and by DC's Emergency Services. The guy who, while dying, was forced to wait for medical care because medical personnel incorrectly assumed he was drunk? Now imagine going to a series if hospitals alleging you've been roofied and asking for a rape kit. And being refused. Why? Because you appear intoxicated.

Never mind that the typical date rape drugs can wreak absolute havoc with your body and mind. That much is, or should be, obvious. Even if this woman was drunk out of her goddamned mind, how dare medical personnel and police officers take her rape allegation less seriously?

Now, this woman could have been hammered. I don't care. Her rape is nothing more than an alleged crime. I don't care. It's the dismissal of such a serious allegation that is so undeniably shocking. It doesn't matter if you're drunk, high, or roofied. The city and the hospitals within the city should be urging sexual assault victims to come forward. This case makes that less likely. Which is shameful.

The complaint stated that during an off-campus house party in December 2006 the plaintiff was given a date-rape drug that rendered her semiconscious. One of the hosts then took her to a room where he allegedly anally penetrated her at around 3 a.m.

Immediately after the alleged assault, she sought medical assistance at Howard University Hospital, accompanied by two witnesses, according to the complaint.

Court documents also add that she appeared intoxicated and was therefore denied a rape kit and sent home. It also states she was drifting in and out of consciousness and vomiting.

The plaintiff returned to Howard University Hospital the next morning and was again denied a rape kit - at which point the Metropolitan Police Department was notified, according to the complaint. They also said they felt a rape kit was unnecessary, according to court documents.

"A sexual assault kit is for police to recover evidence," said Sergeant Ronald Reid of the MPD Sex Assault Unit. "So if we don't have reason to believe a crime happened we wouldn't administer a rape kit."

Doesn't it make more sense to administer the rape kit and then check to see if a crime happened? You know, just in case her allegations were truthful?

Again, this isn't about whether this woman was raped or not. It's that hospitals and the Metro Police Department decided it wasn't important enough to find out. It's that such a serious allegation, an allegation that is so hard for so many women to make, can be treated so lightly. How depressing.

Taxi Day!


Today's the day, ladies and gentlemen. Mayor Fenty must decide on whether he wants DC to push forward into the 20th Century by having meters in the city's cabs. Zones, as yesterday's Post points out, are totally unacceptable and archaic.

Rumor has it that Fenty will choose the installation of GPS meters. This will maintain the city's old timey zone system while using a GPS to make sure the passenger is not being overcharged. This seems like a compromise designed to please everyone while pleasing no one. Cabbies, who I really could give two shits about, will bristle at the idea of having a meter which will log how much cash they're taking in. At the same time, the zone system, which very few people have a firm grasp on, lives on.

Zone meters are a start. Although they still leave passengers open to overcharging, it will at least hold cab drivers accountable for where they take their riders. Cab drivers can bugger off if they don't like it. I don't care if every cab is like an individual small business. They, like with the Subway Apple Fiasco, have to charge the advertised price. They are not doing that. They don't deserve anyone's sympathy when it comes to meters.


GLORIOUS! It looks like common sense has won the day.


Rambling Laura Sessions Stepp Wrap-Up

So, the LSS I-95 Corridor Bonanza was last night. The NYC wrap-up comes courtesy of my new favorite (non-sports related) blog, Jezebel. Seriously, Jezebel is fantastic and I can't recommend it highly enough.

Last night my lady friend, Terri, and I took the Orange Line to Arlington Central Library. The gist of this event was a bunch of 20 and 30-somethings would stop by the library, check out all these charities that had set up little displays, and then listen to LSS talk about the importance of mentoring.

In other words, it would have been grossly inappropriate to ask questions about gray rape ("grape") and it was grossly inappropriate to go after her stupid book unless she mentioned it in her speech.

Well, of course she mentioned it in her speech. Of. Course. She. Did. Her speech about mentoring was like a 30-minute infomercial for Unhooked.

One of the things she said stood out though. She argued that true feminism was about choice. That the feminists of "her time" were interested in choosing to abort and/or choosing to have kids. Choosing to work outside the home or choosing to be a homemaker. Equal doesn't mean the same. And, man, I 100% agreed. Choosing to be a homemaker is just as feminist a thing to do as choosing to work 40+ hours a week while getting the equal pay women deserve. As long as the choice is there.

But that's not the book LSS wrote. She wasn't writing about how women should not be choosing to get laid. (And let's be honest, a lot of people like getting laid.) She was writing about women being the sexual gatekeepers instead of choosing to pursue. She was writing about women baking cookies to impress men. She was writing nonsense like "women should avoid bars, that's a man's place." LSS had left an opening and we were there to expose it.

After some friendly questions, Terri went up to the plate. She brought up the baked goods line and then added something LSS told the New York Times:

The quaint joy of being wooed is not among the most griped-about elements of “Unhooked.” That distinction belongs to this paragraph: “Tying one on can be fun occasionally. Just don’t let it take over your social life. Organize weekend getaways and other events to bring people together. Bake cookies, brownies, muffins. Ask your girlfriends for assistance. Guys will do anything for homemade baked goods.”

Ms. Sessions Stepp said she anticipated fallout from those lines, but was simply pointing out there are other things to do for fun.

“I said to my editor, ‘Should I use that line?’ ” Ms. Sessions Stepp said. “He said, ‘Well, it’s going to get some people mad, but you know what? That’s good. We like controversy.’ So I said, ‘Well, O.K., just so they don’t ignore my book.’ ”

So, that retarded line was kept in to generate controversy and sell some books. LSS is like some cross of Ann Coulter and Dana Carvey's Church Lady.

So Terri asked her how someone could mentor a young girl into conforming into typical gender roles and still call herself a feminist. LSS responded with something that directly contradicts the New York Times article by saying that she could have used any other example of an activity as long as the point was made that women don't belong in bars.

It was at this point that she lost the room.

I quickly raised my hand and asked how she could say "feminism is about choice" out of one side of her mouth while saying "ladies don't belong in stereotypically male environments" out the other. Her response that people, gentlemen and ladies, are only at bars to get blitzed and hook-up with some dude or lady was not well-received.

The next question was from someone asking what the problem with bars is. Isn't the dude you meet at a bar the same dude you meet at Gold's Gym or the library? Why does going to a bar make someone undateable?

And then the master of ceremonies cut the Q+A short. Victory!

But not before telling the crowd that some of the charity representatives were going to Carpool, a fucking bar!, after the event was over. After he made that comment everyone laughed and the MC blushed. He realized his error.

Terri and I left the event with people thanking us for our hostility.

My first confrontation with LSS was, alas, only a draw. (Warning: post made before declaring all-out war on LSS.) This second confrontation could only be interpreted as pure, unadulterated victory. We fucking got her. It's a nice feeling.

(This morning I realized a far better question, considering the venue, would have been if she mentored a 15-year-old girl in her book who was getting statutory raped left and right [including by an in-uniform Metro bus driver, ugh] to report these rapes to the police. That's what any mentor would do, right? I'm genuinely curious to see if she did the same.)


LSS Stalk

So, we all know LSS will be in Arlington tonight. Well, good news for my New York readers! (Site Meter says I have at least three.) LSS will be spinning her gray rape crazy in about an hour. Here's a Google map. (h/t Feministing)

LSS is quite the busy bee, no? It's like she's some anti-hero spreading as much wrongness and crazy as possible throughout the I-95 Corridor. I hope a date rape victim gives her Hell.


So, I'm walking out of my luxurious American University Park group house this morning when a shiny Beamer with Maryland plates parallel parks in front of my house. I cross the street and watch a woman step out with a cup of yogurt. She drops it on the street right in front of my home.

I give this woman the stink eye. We make stink eye contact. She responds by kicking the yogurt under her stupid fucking BMW so I couldn't have picked up the litter even if I wanted to.

What a bitch. What a selfish whore.

And, yeah, there was a trash can 15 yards away.

What would have been the right move? I just walked away. Should I have gone back and grabbed the yogurt cup? Maybe I should have yelled at her? What would you do?

I hope someone keys her car.


Party Crash!

I love when my readers forward me this stuff:

Dear xxxxxxxxx,

The Arlington County Volunteer Office is sending this email to all volunteers registered in our Online Volunteer Connection. We are excited to announce an exciting event next week…

CRM Mentoring Fair Featuring Laura Sessions Stepp
Learn more & get involved with groups that mentor young adults in Arlington… Hear from a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who specializes in teenager and young adult issues…

Community Role Models (CRM) is partnering with Arlington Public Libraries to host an exciting community event where you can learn about Arlington area mentoring organizations and hear from Laura Sessions Stepp, the nationally acclaimed author of Our Last Best Shot and Unhooked. Come to the CRM Mentoring Fair featuring Laura Sessions Stepp on Monday, October 15 at 7:00 PM in the Arlington Central Library Auditorium. Light refreshments will be provided and all are welcome! RSVP Here

We hope to see you next week – and please feel free to forward this email along to others who might be interested.

Best Wishes,


Arlington County Volunteer Office

It just so happens that I am very interested. Remember when I courageously called LSS a "cunt" using the magick of the Internet? Maybe now I can do it to her face! And it's Metro accessible too!

And if any of my lady readers attend, I recommend wearing something slutty. Her head would explode.


Ok, this post is pretty limited in scope. I just want to know if anyone here in InternetLand agrees with me or if you think I'm totally nuts.

I was at the Subway on 14th and I. Not the McPhereson Square stop. The sandwich place. It's my favorite since, insanely, a bunch of restaurants in this neighborhood don't take credit cards. Seriously. In 2007.

In a Sisyphean attempt to eat healthier, I got a turkey breast sub, no cheese, on wheat. I also ordered that healthy meal option where for $1.80 they throw in a 21oz soda (Diet Coke) and a healthy side. I had the choice of baked potato chips, raisins, or apples. (If you're hesitant to try Subway's apples, I understand. But know this: they're delicious. I have no idea how they keep them so "fresh." I probably don't want to know.) So I choose apples.

The apples are stored behind me in the bottled soda fridge. I pay my $8.13 and grab a bag of apples. The cashier/manager stops me.

Manager: "Apples are another 11 cents."

Rusty: "You're kidding, right?"

Manager: "No, I need another 11 cents. Apples are extra."

Rusty: "Um, the sign says they aren't extra. And I already paid."

Manager: "The sign is wrong, I need another 11 cents."

Rusty: "Well, I already paid."

Manager: "Well, then you can't have the apples. Have the raisins instead."

Rusty (lying): "I don't have the eleven cents."

Manager: "Then pay me next time."

Rusty: "There are at least three Subways within a few blocks from here. There won't be a next time."

And then I storm out with my apples.

Yeah, I got him good.

So, am I crazy to never go into that Subway ever again? That's crazy right? I mean, on one hand, there really are a ton of Subways in the area. I just did a quick search and found five in the 20005 zip code. On the other hand, it's 11 fucking cents.

No, I did the right thing. Principle! To demand my money after the transaction has been completed is nutty. And if you're willing to give him the extra 11 cents, where does it stop? A quarter? A dollar? No. That is madness.

I stand by my decision. Also, it's probably best not to be seen in public with me.


Well, That Was Boring

Went to the beginning of the taxi rally on Freedom Plaza. Turnout appeared to be about 150, which, to be honest, was more than I was expecting.

The dude with the microphone was asking people to call "four or five friends" on their cell phones to try and get a larger turnout. No one seemed to be obliging him. There were also a bunch of picket signs that said things like "Give us a certificate" and "Leave our business alone." The latter I get. I'm a bit confused by the former.

The funny thing about drivers wanting DC to leave their business alone is that cabs are already one of the most regulated businesses in the city. The price is already set. So how would a meter be any different? Because it would be fairer to the consumer. And that's what this is about, ladies and gentlemen. The ability to rip people off.

Wanna Bet?

"There are mixed positions, but I can assure you the great majority of drivers are unhappy at the thought of meters," [Cab Driver Degarge Lakew] said. "Not because we're going to lose money, but because the whole business is going to be affected."

There's going to be an anti-meter rally at Freedom Plaza at 2:00pm today. I may check it out on my lunch break.

As for the article, cry me a fucking river. I don't need the Post guilt-tripping me because cabbies will lose their ability to rip me off every Friday night.


Spending Other People's Money

Chancellor Michelle Rhee is asking for an extra $81,000,000.00 to fix the city's special education program. Mayor Fenty had previously said that he wouldn't ask for more cash for schools. The problem was mismanagement, not lack of funds. Apparently, at least for the special education program, it was both.

And then there's this: "District Council Chair Vincent C. Gray has said privately that he'll call hearings if Fenty reneged on his promise to stay within the budget."

Now, $81,000,000.00 isn't peanuts. If the city's special ed programs can be fixed without spending all that extra money, then obviously that avenue should be pursued. Gray is right to explore every possibility before committing to such a large budget increase.

Of course, when things like this happen, it's nice to have some extra cash lying around. You never know when the city will need another $81M to fix the schools or another $79M to keep the only hospital east of the Anacostia open. That extra money can be a godsend for the people who need it most.

You see where this is going, right?

Let me point out that Gray was one of the legislators who flip-flopped on the $611,000,000.00 stadium deal. He voted against the stadium lease. Four hours later, he changed his mind. I consider Gray extra-responsible for the ludicrous payoff that the Lerners and Major League Baseball received.

So, Chairman Gray, please conduct hearings on the $81M increase in education funding. But remember that your reckless vote to spend $611,000,000.00 on a playground looms large over everything you say and everything you do. In other words, Mr. Gray, I expect you to support Rhee and Fenty on this. If you say the city can't afford it, may God have mercy on your soul.


If We All Stop Paying, Will They Take Away Our Water?

Over the weekend, one of my new roommates was going through the utility bills. When he asked me to cut a check to WASA, I asked him if he would be interested in not paying out of protest. The only thing WASA has really accomplished is putting my life in danger. In the short term by not fixing, or alerting the Fire Department to, all of the broken hydrants. In the long term by first filling me with lead and then over chlorinating me. WASA should change its name to the Department of Fire and Cancer. They'd probably end up with a way cooler logo.

He told me that I could boycott WASA as long as I promised not to use the kitchen or the bathroom. I'm not quite that outraged yet.

Yesterday, I got an e-mail from this aforementioned roommate. First he alerted me that I was the second thing that popped up if you Google "fuck dc." (I love living in a city where it only takes two months before someone is Googling "fuck dc.")

The second alert was, wow, look at that, WASA fucked up again.

As you most certainly know by now, an apartment building was torched yesterday in a four-alarm blaze. The Fire Department showed up and couldn't find a hydrant that would give them enough water pressure to fight the conflagration. Apparently the water pipes are woefully out of date. Although it's WASA's job to modernize these pipes, I understand why it didn't get done. A lot of the city's pipes are out of date. These things take time.

But for all that is good and holy, HOW THE FUCK CAN YOU NOT INFORM THE FIRE DEPARTMENT OF THIS!?!?!? They had no fucking idea. They had to go to Calvert and Connecticut and 16th and Columbia to get water. That isn't a short trip. Lives were/are put at risk because of WASA's incompetence. Again.

(Also of note, Adams Morgan is apparently a fucking death trap. What if one of those shitty bars goes up in flames because someone throws a lit cigarette in a trashcan? What then? The population and buildings are so dense, we could have a 21st Century Cocoanut Grove on our hands.)

I can't tell you how much I look forward to cutting those motherfuckers another $20 check next month. Seriously, what the fuck will it take to get WASA GM Jerry N. Johnson fired? When does enough become enough?


This....This Isn't Appropriate

When I was a senior at AU, I took a Journalism and Ethics class with Toby. The teacher, Professor "Hotson" Watson, would often ask his students what we thought would be appropriate to print in a newspaper.

There was one girl in the class who was unbearable. Anytime we were shown a photograph of a dude on fire or of a starving child, anything the least bit controversial, she would argue to the point of tears that it didn't belong in a paper. She would squeal about how she didn't want her six-year-old sister to be corrupted.

Of course, I disagreed with her constantly. I believe that it's a newspaper's responsibility to give the reader as much information as possible. I've given the Post a hard time in the past for refusing to use the words "nigger" and "fag" when the actual words were the crux of a major story. I hope tomorrow's Post features some gruesome photos of the monks being shot down in Burma so that its readers get the full scope of the atrocities happening in Southeast Asia. When it's in the best interest of the story, I want my media to pull no punches.

I'm boring you with this because I want it known that I'm no prude.

That being said, what the Hell was the Washington Post Express thinking when it printed the word "pussy" in an interview with Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine? Did they really need to print Dave Mustaine saying "I'm not a pussy"?

Printing that was unnecessary and bizarre. I think most people would agree that the word "pussy" is offensive. I certainly don't use it in mixed company. Or, to be more specific (and accurate), I used that word in mixed company and I got yelled at. I've never seen it published in a mainstream news media outlet unless it was proceeded with the word "cat" or "willow." Wouldn't "I'm not a [wuss]" have worked just as well?

Of course I can't find a link. Stupid Express.


Through the Fire and the Flames

After a long, hard day at the office, I was real excited to go home and grill me some pork loins. My mouth was practically salivating by the time I got to the Farragut North platform at 5:30. I had just missed a train and in typical Metro fashion, the next "rush hour" train wouldn't be arriving for another six minutes.

In those six minutes, people continued to pack themselves like sardines. My thoughts had switched from anticipating sweet pork tastiness to fearing how packed the next train would be. That's when I noticed the smell. Something was burning.

I wasn't the only one who noticed it. My fellow commuters were all looking around anxiously, sniffing the air to detect more sulfur. Then smoke started coming out of one of the tunnels. Great.

Here's where this gets interesting. No one reported the smoke. The station, especially my side towards L Street, was still filling with smoke and all people would do was hope and pray that our train came before there was a crippling Metro delay. Our safety had taken a back seat to our impatience. We would have rather sped through a fireball in the tunnel then wait around for twenty minutes underground. I suppose years of Metro delays will do that.

The story has a happy ending. Our train came and my car had enough room for me to stand comfortably. The doors remained open for a few minutes, presumably a delay tactic to fix whatever was wrong. In those few minutes, commuters kept nervously making eye contact with each other. These silent urges to get the train moving aroused feelings of shock and empathy. Shock because people are finally at the point where we're willing to take risks to get home a few minutes earlier. That's kind of crazy. Empathy because, despite all logic and reason, I'm one of those people.


Ads on a Bus Go Round and Round

So I spotted this ad on a bus. It was paid for by DC's Department of Health. I think it was for the DC Cancer Control Registry. I, of course, have no beef with an organization dedicated to helping people with cancer. In my experience, cancer has extremely limited humor potential. So I have no need for it.

But the ad bothered me. It was a picture of two older black people. One male, one female. The text read something along the lines of:

"Did you know: Cancer kills more African-Americans than any other ethnic group in DC?"

Now, I'm all for preventing cancer and giving the best treatment to those who have it. However, I am also against bus advertisements treating me like I'm an idiot.

DC's population: 581,530
Demographics: 58% Black, 39% White, 3% everything else.
So, approximately: 337,300 blacks, 226,800 whites.

Can you imagine how statistically significant it would be if cancer, or anything else for that matter, were killing less blacks than whites? Of course cancer is killing more blacks than anyone else. The city is majority black! That's why it's called Chocolate City, sillies.

I hope they do more signs like this. Did you know that old age kills more African-Americans than any other ethnic group in DC?


Again with the DC Voting Rights


I can't believe I'm writing about the DC Vote legislation again. This is, like, my fifth time wasting time on this? Ugh. Sorry, guys. Yet whenever the issue comes up, you have the Post editorial staff, Marc Fisher, and Martin Austermuhle rallying the troops in support of this bill. I can't let that stand.

For new readers, here's the quick and dirty basics. The legislation, which has passed the House, would give DC a vote in the House of Representatives. It would also give Utah an extra at-large House member to offset the very liberal leanings of the District. This legislation appears to have the support of most everyone in Washington and Utah.

There is some question to the constitutionality of the legislation. Some believe that Congress does not have the ability to grant the District a vote. Naturally, others think this part of the legislation is all kosher. I lean towards the former, but, hey, I'm no legal scholar. I could be wrong.

However, I'm pretty sure that giving Utah an extra at-large House member is wildly, stupidly unconstitutional. It violates everything that is good about representative democracy by giving citizens of one state two voices in the House. This would make Utah more politically potent than any state in the country. That should strike all of you, whether you're from Virginia, Maryland, DC, or Massachusetts (Hi Mom!) as incredibly dangerous.

Of course, Utah's extra vote isn't as important to me as the civil rights of my fellow District residents. Hey, I'm selfish like that. Everyone can agree that our total lack of representation on the Hill is an embarrassment to the very concept of democracy. We pay taxes, fight wars, and we get absolutely no say in how to manage either. This legislation will make things worse.

If you truly believe this is an issue of civil rights (and if you don't, you're a moron), then this legislation is a bitter pill to swallow. Civil rights isn't something you can just cancel out. When women were given the right to vote in 1920, men weren't given two votes to cancel the women out. That would be preposterous. But that is exactly what's happening here. What's the point of representative democracy if your representation can be cancelled out with extra legislators?

Marc Fisher described this Utah vote, the political neutrality, as the "beauty" of the bill. Shame on him. What exactly is the point of having a House vote if it doesn't matter? Since when do our rights as human beings have anything to do with politically neutral? The 1865 black community voted overwhelmingly Republican. Yet Congress didn't pass any legislation giving Democratic states extra representation because it was politically neutral. This is civil rights! What does politics have to do with it!?

Even if the Utah part of the bill is scrapped, the legislation still leaves District residents fundamentally and unacceptably underrepresented. Our hypothetical one voice in the House doesn't come close to matching up the three representatives (one House member, two Senators) that every other American citizen has.

Why must we accept this compromise? In issues of civil rights, there can be no room for compromise. We can't have it both ways when our rights are being trampled. Civil rights compromises are doomed to fail. As long as we are on unequal ground with our fellow Americans, we can not rest. And this legislation is a slap in the face to anyone who truly cares about District residents. We only get a voice if someone else gets the ability to shout you down? We only get one voice, neutered by Utah, in one chamber of Congress? How can this possibly be acceptable?

Hear that Marc Fisher and Martin Austermuhle? Are you for our civil rights or are you for a useless compromise that does nothing but let people pat themselves on the back? Your positions on this matter have been totally unacceptable. I greatly admire your writing on other issues, but your wrongheadedness in such an important matter to DC residents is, frankly, embarrassing. No compromise could be made on slavery. No compromise could be made on segregation. And no compromise can be made here. (And, yes, this is a racial matter. If this city were over 60% white instead of over 60% black, there is no way we're having this conversation.) I hope you do the right thing and come out against this legislation. We need to start from scratch and fight for what we, and every American, deserve: democratic representation and equality. This bill grants us neither.

UPDATE: It looks like the bill failed to receive the 60 votes necessary to open up debate. The bill is dead, for now. It'll probably come back in the next few years. Hopefully, before we have to go through this madness again, we can move pas this farce of a civil rights bill and actually work to get the District's 600,000 residents the Representative and Senators they deserve with no strings attached.


Blog Whoring

Ok, there's this guy who goes by the handle "HRH King Friday XIII." He is basically Commenter #1 on this blog. His comments are so excellent that I asked him to be my guest blogger when I took a vacation in April. He was quite good. I still owe him beers.

He mentioned that he would be starting his own blog. I totally forgot. I am a bad Internet friend.

Here it is:

He is funnier than me. And he updates more. Win-win for all you readers out there.

Writing to Fill Space

1. The University of Maryland is, supposedly, a school filled with smarties who had to pull 3.7s in their (ugh) public high school to earn admittance. And yet, UMD students and alumni are consistently the stupidest people in the room.

"Stupid" might be a bit harsh. I admit to pre-judging anyone who went to UMD. Why? Because of shit like this.

At Thursday's football game between Maryland and West Virginia, a Maryland student, Thomas Agbonyitor, surely upset at his team getting hosed by the superior UWV squad, tackled a West Virginia fan. Why?

"I saw this fan standing around all cocky," Agbonyitor said. "So I did my best Shawne Merriman impression and took him out; everyone cheered. I hate when opposing fans come to our stadium and act like that."

Oh, well, if he was standing around all cocky, of course he deserved to be assaulted.

If anyone wants to have a good laugh at this moron's expense, here's a link to his totally indecipherable Myspace page. Go Terps!

2. I usually don't write about my dining experiences. That's more Tweaks's thing. But I have to make an exception for the worst brunch spot in DC.

Never, ever, ever go to Bardia's New Orleans Cafe. This place is a disaster. Our iced coffees came with foam and cream, but without ice. Apparently "iced coffee" is actually Cajun-speak for "lukewarm latte." My date's Eggs Hollandaise was so overcooked that the poached eggs were actually hard-boiled. Think about how disgusting that is. And instead of English muffins, the eggs were served on a thin, disgusting slice of deli ham. The potatoes were cold. My sausage omelette tasted like dish soap. I have never been more disgusted at a restaurant in my entire life. I left with a tummyache.

Good thing I have this here blog so I can spread the word. Avoid that place like the plague.


I Feel Dead Inside

So the Wall Street Journal is doing a series that "looks at real estate and career prospects for young professionals starting out in their careers." I presumed that this series would be condescending. It isn't. The word I'd use is "horrifying."

In case you missed this, the Wall Street Journal's article on DC young professionals is all 'bout bloggers. Seriously. This is the wave of the future in DC. Bloggers. Ugh.

Look, I'm happy for the bloggers WSJ profiled. It's not like I would turn someone down if they offered me a salary and appearances on Hardball just for writing this shitty blog. These people are all talented and deserve the praise. (Full disclosure: I got quite drunk with two of the profiled bloggers last night. I wish I read this article before seeing them so I could have had something more entertaining to say than "Yeah, um, DC sucks.") It's just, I don't know, isn't the "blogosphere" self-congratulatory enough without the Wall Street Journal getting involved?

Anyone who thinks they can make a living off blogging is hopelessly optimistic and sadly deluded. For almost all of them, that big break from Gothamist or Gawker Media will never happen. And this is a gift from heaven since most people are terrible, terrible writers. There are millions of blogs out there and most of them don't deserve a second look. As Toby's shirt says, "No one cares about your blog."

And the fact that DC young professionals, a label which obviously applies to me, are being noted for getting paid to blog is some the stupidest shit I've ever read. The DC population between 20 and 34 is 131,504. Something tells me that only a few dozen, at most, are paid to blog out of that group. So, thanks for the insipid article, WSJ. Aren't there some summer associates at Steptoe you could be bothering? I bet they outnumber all the hip bloggers.


Missed Connection, m4m

Hi! We made eye contact while you were working last night at around 10:30pm. You were driving a 34 bus and I was waiting at my local bus stop on Wisconsin Avenue. The eye contact was electric!

So why did you keep driving? There I was at the stop, there you were on the bus...what part of bus etiquette did I miss? Should I have waved my arms frantically? Or is there some kind of WMATA tradition where you only pick up people after 10pm if you feel like it?

You: Black male, mid-to-late 20s, medium build, shaved head, wearing a WMATA uniform.
Me: White male, mid 20s, 6'2", 220lbs, brown hair, pissed as Hell.

Maybe we can meet sometime so I can tell you to go fuck yourself in person?


Paper Wrappers!? Really!?

This story would piss me off a lot more if DC had some kind of AIDS epidemic or something.


So You Propose What?

Every now and then The Washington Post will produce an editorial that is so stupid and perplexing that it makes me long for the days of the Yarmouth Register or Cape Cod Times. My all-time favorite was an editorial lamenting the death of an eagle that lived by the Wilson Bridge. That was just silly. An editorial published today is much more troublesome.

The Post frets that the city could get ripped off when it sells off Greater Southeast Community Hospital to the highest bidder. Unfortunately for the city, there is only one bidder, Specialty Hospitals of America. That doesn't put us on great negotiating ground. Since the city doesn't want the only hospital in the city east of the Anacostia to close its doors, Fenty and the Council don't have a lot of options. So it should come as no surprise that Specialty Hospitals is asking for quite a bit to take the hopsital off of the city's hands. Here, "quite a bit" is a 59 million dollar loan. Interest free of course.

The Post feels like this is a bad deal. "But it's important that as Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) negotiates this deal, he protect the city's interests. A deal born of desperation is no good deal," says the Post.

Let's review. The city wants to keep the hospital open. The city has mismanaged hospitals so poorly in the past that a city takeover, in the words of the Post, "should not even be considered." There's only one company willing to take over the hospital's operations. Hmmm. I'd say the loan is pretty much a foregone conclusion. Do you have any suggestions, Post Editorial Board? Oh, you don't? Then I guess it's settled.

The problem with your "a deal born of desperation is no good deal" argument is that there are no other viable alternatives. I'll be psyched if some other companies fall out of the sky to bid on taking over Greater Southeast. But the status quo is what it is. There's a difference between "no good deal" and "the only deal that's available."

And a double fuck you to the Post Editorial Board for supporting the baseball stadium giveaway. How can one support paying $611,000,000 for a playground while opposing keeping open a motherfucking hospital at less than a tenth of the price!? And that "tenth of a price" is a FUCKING LOAN. If the hopsital suceeds, which everyone wants, we get the money back! Try cutting a better deal with the Lerners.

D.C. Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large), chair of the committee on health, is right when he points to the millions of dollars the city has paid to help out developers, not to mention rich owners of sports teams. Ensuring access to high-quality health care for vulnerable people is no less a priority.

"No less a priority" implies that there could be equal priorities at play here. That's not the case. Keeping a hospital open in one of the poorest areas of the city is considerably more important than a new stadium. What I would give to live in a city where the newspaper's priorities are "hospitals > stadiums" instead of the other way around.


Four Alarm Blaze...In My Pants!

Sorry this here blog has been so quiet. I've been a busy, busy boy.

The big story in the news since the beginning of my two day sabbatical is without a doubt the revelation that Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) is the type of dude that knows bathroom solicitation code and probably trolls on Craigslist's casual encounters page. Frankly, I could care less. That doofus is Idaho's problem, not mine.

I'm much more offended by the allegation that DC firemen and EMTs are running prostitution rings out of firehouses. These people are employed to protect us. Running a criminal enterprise is, correct me if I'm wrong, counter-intuitive to protection.

Sure, these are only allegations. But would it really surprise anyone if they turned out to be true? DC city officials are a joke. Firefighters running sex rings, a policeman forcing a motorist to perform sex acts, and let's not forget the EMTs who doomed David Rosenbaum. The police, fire department, and hospitals are all useless. If this were a game of Sim City we'd all have been destroyed by a disaster by now.

Of course, in Sim City 3000, the stadiums aren't funded with taxes and the schools are easy to fix.