Maybe Homeschooling Isn't That Bad

Home-schooled kids are usually easy marks. As Mean Girls pointed out, home-schooled kids tend to be stereotyped as spelling whizzes or religious nuts. But maybe the parents who lock their kids away from basic social interaction are on to something.

In what has to be considered a black eye for the Fenty administration, DC public schools will not be prepared for the first day of classes on August 27. Three thousand classrooms currently lack air conditioning. The average high temperature in DC in August is 86 degrees Fahrenheit. If I were a student, I would prefer A/C.

Air conditioning is a nice little luxury, but what about heat? DC classrooms don't have that either. Twenty schools were temporarily closed last year due to a lack of heating in the classrooms. The problems haven't been fixed. DC has until October 15 to fix this. In the meantine, the air conditioning will just have to wait.

Oh, and there aren't enough textbooks to go around. Not only are the schools uncomfortable, they're also impotent. Kids can go have some hands-on learning with dealing with uncomfortable environments. After that, the education stops.

I can not fathom how it got to this point. Twenty school closures and we're just now getting to fixing the problem? Three thousand classrooms without air conditioning in a city with a ruthlessly hot climate? No textbooks? How can a parent feel good about sending their kids to these schools? Fenty ran under a platform of changing the schools. Basically the platform that everyone runs on and the public continues to buy hook, line, and sinker. But it's the same old shit. Expecting wholesale changes in one year is a bit too much to ask. I'm not that naive. But, Christ, they still haven't fixed the heating? That's the issue that's fallen through the cracks?

I continue to applaud myself for not voting for this man.

UPDATE: I find it hard to keep a link to the terrible Examiner up when the Post has an article concerning the same problems. Here's something notable:

At a news conference yesterday, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) promised that this would be the last year of such textbook debacles and said the city is updating school heating and air-conditioning systems.

I am now very, very excited for July 31, 2008.


Yes, I Know About the Dead Birds

Yesterday was a bad time to be in Eastern DC as three stations were shut down due to poisoned birds. These sparrow corpses join high temperatures as a ridiculous inconvenience that can cripple the second busiest subway system in the country. Next thing you know East Falls Church station will be shut down by, I don't know, scary looking clouds.

Not a ridiculous inconvenience: someone dying at the hands (wheels? rails?) of a train. A commenter, "edthered," pointed out that Metro switched from killing birds to killing humans. Sure enough, there was a service alert on the Metro website saying the Ballston station was closed down to a train killing someone. Details are forthcoming. I'm of course not blaming Metro for this. Yet. This could have been a jumper for all we know.

I do not envy Orange Line commuters today.

The Patriot Center Needs More ATMs.

I went to the White Stripes show at the Patriot Center on Saturday. It was my first trip to George Mason and I was amazed that they could fit such a big school out in the middle of nowhere.

The show was fine even if the sound was, um, not good. I just wanted to point out that I had never been surrounded by so many dee-bagz in my entire life. It was worse than any frat party or intern fair I had ever attended. Douches everywhere. Bros punching each other and then hugging and saying "I love you, man." I thought that was just a cliche. But it really happens! And if I hear one more asshole propose to Meg White in the middle of "In the Cold, Cold Night" I am going to shoot myself.

My roommate told me that every show she goes to at the Patriot Center is like that. So, what's up? Is this just a coincidence or are GMU students/Fairfax residents super-obnoxious? Or do The White Stripes attract a douchey audience? All theories are appreciated. It was the first time an audience greatly affected my enthusiasm.

And God damn it, if you're lucky enough to be on the floor at a rock concert, fucking move around a little. Nothing is more depressing than seeing hundreds of people just standing there while rock music is being performed. I expect that shit at Fiona Apple and Aimee Mann concerts. But The White Stripes? Really?


The Environment is My Grandchildren's Problem

I assume my fellow downtown workers are sick and tired of Greenpeace solicitors getting all up in your piece asking for a donation or your e-mail address.

"Do you have a minute to talk about the environment?"

"No, bitch, I do not. I have a minute to shoot the shit with a homeless dude/dudette and donate my loose change to a worthy cause. You get nothing."

I've noticed an increase in the number of times I've been targeted by one of these assholes. Maybe it's because there's less pedestrian traffic due to summer vacations and I'm being targeted more frequently. Maybe I have a compassionate face. Who knows? I do know that I am sick of this.

From now on, anytime some useless waste of sidewalk space asks me for a minute of my time, I am going to litter right in front of them. I will dig through my man-purse and find a food wrapper or scrap paper and leave it at their feet. If you love the Earth so fucking much then leave me be.

I urge anyone else tired of these glorified panhandlers to follow my lead. Maybe they'll get the hint.


"What is Up With This Town!?"

On Friday I met up with Toby after work. We met at the Rosslyn Metro Station so we could get some good seats at the Aimee Mann show. The Birchmere website said the best way to find the venue was to take the Metro to Pentagon City and cab it from there. Naturally, the Metro would not cooperate.

When we found each other on Rosslyn's lower platform, the next train wasn't scheduled to arrive for 11 minutes. And this was during rush hour. I was paying an increased fare to wait 11 minutes. Awesome.

Of course, 11 minutes was a bit optimistic. After five minutes all three trains on the board disappeared. When they reappeared the number had jumped back to eight. Then they disappeared again. Finally, we got the dreaded announcement that there were Blue/Orange Line delays and that we might be sitting around for a while. Toby, who Ana Marie Cox once credited with mastering the "semi-annual Metro rant," and I had had enough. We decided to bolt.

And what luck! The elevator to the street was open and ready for our entrance. Run, Toby, run! Alas, we just missed it. Oh well. The two of us decided to wait for the elevator. We were accompanied by an older woman in a pink shirt. While we were checking out the new maps that show you where all the buses go from Rosslyn (a map Toby called "suspiciously informative"), the woman in pink was frantically pushing the elevator's up button. With every passing second she would press that button while mumbling to herself. This woman had places to be. What an affront to have to wait underground!

Finally the woman gives up. "What is up with this town!?" she yells to no one in particular. She hops the Metro gate and makes the long, sad trip up the escalator. No more than 15 seconds later, the elevator arrives and we were on our way.

"What is up with this town!?" I wish I knew, lady. I wish I knew.

If you were wondering, Aimee Mann was fantastic.



I have some shocking news. Everyone sit down for this. DC's tap water is polluted to the point where it could be causing low birth weight and birth defects.


If it's not lead it's something else. This time it's chlorine pollutants. It seems that DC has been working so hard to clean the city's drinking water that they went a bit too far. The end result is the same: we are being poisoned.

WASA's head is wedged in the sand:

WASA General Manager Jerry N. Johnson did not respond to calls for comment. His spokesman, Michele Quander-Collins, said WASA's testing shows acceptable levels of disinfection toxins in the water supply in every monthly test this year.

"The byproduct levels we test for at eight EPA-approved locations have been well within EPA parameters," she said. "Our tests don't show high levels."

Just like your tests don't show broken fire hydrants? Ask a Georgetown librarian how those tests went. I swear to God, a little part of me dies everytime I pay a utility bill to these incompetent fucks.

Washington Aqueduct General Manager Thomas P. Jacobus pointed out that the testing was done after a "chlorine surge" to clear out DC's sewers of any grossness. Since the EPA averages every monthly sample, on the whole, the water is safe. Well, color me unimpressed. I'm psyched that the water is usually within EPA parameters. However, at one point, there was a two in five chance that I was drinking something unacceptably harmful to my body (note: things like alcohol and cream soda are acceptably unhealthy). That doesn't make me sleep any better at night.


The Triple Whammy/Moronic Vandalism

The Metro was in fine form this morning. Everything that could have gone wrong did.

There weren't enough trains this morning so I had to reverse commute to Maryland to get on a Metrocar. I can't imagine what people waiting on the Cleveland Park or Woodley Park stops have to do to find a spot on a train. Those stations were overflowing with grumpy commuters.

Once I got on a train, there were constant delays. There's nothing quite like running late due to Metro's incompetence only to find yourself stuck like a mosquito in amber within a tunnel. People were already packed in like sardines, let's make them sweat it out.

And to add insult to injury, once of the escalators at the Dupont station was down. This is par for the course for Metro, but after spending 45 minutes traveling the four miles from my house to my office I just wasn't in the mood. Naturally both sides of the escalator, even the precious left, were filled with standers.

Well, the time I spent stuck at the Medical Center stop was well-spent. I read a delightful little article in the Post's Metro section about the vandalism of a Hummer. The article was glorious in the way it presented everyone as a complete and total douchebag.

Ok, some dude living on the 3400 block of Branywine, an enclave of wealthy liberal guilt, buys a used Hummer. It's his dream car. Anyone who's dream car is a Hummer probably some raging adequacy issues, but, fine, whatever. The Hummmer "lasted five days on the street before two masked men took a bat to every window, a knife to each 38-inch tire and scratched into the body: 'FOR THE ENVIRON.'" According to the Hummer's owner, Gareth Groves, many in the neighborhood are openly happy that this happened. This neighborhood is just dripping with smug schadenfreude.

If someone destroyed my car and people in the neighborhood were openly happy about it, well, I don't know what I'd do. It would be very tempting to start destroying Priuses.

Of course, even those that are coming to Groves's defense aren't exactly the most sympathetic characters.

"They've got everything at their disposal in this city to make a statement in a legal way," [Lani] Fremaux said of the bat-wielding men who struck out at the Hummer. "I consider this a hate crime."

That's right, ladies and gents. A hate crime. I'd like to set up a meeting between Fremaux and James Byrd, Jr. and Matthew Shepard. They'll tell you what a real hate crime is, ma'am.

Even the victim here is a pretty sad case of humanity. Here we have a 32-year-old man who still lives with his mother spending $38,000 on a used car that doesn't even fit into his garage. Why did he want the Hummer? Because of the "image."

Groves, who grew up in the District and works in marketing for a local radio station, said he wanted the car in part because he is starting a company, Washington Sports Marketing, that is "image-based."

Ugh. Every time I see a Hummer the first thing that pops into my mind is "small dick!" If that's the image you want to project, then go gangbusters, buddy.

So, the Hummer owner is kind of a douche. The vandals are, of course, vigilante assholes who deserve to be thrown in jail. The neighbors are douches since they're either excited about this vigilante nonsense or are comparing a vandalized car to terror-inspiring hate crimes.

Even the Post doesn't get off the hook. I hate to get all Mike Grass on you, but 34th and Brandywine is certainly not in American University Park. It's on the border between Tenleytown and Forest Hills. AU Park is a good seven or eight blocks away on the Western side of Wisconsin Avenue. It's a small bone to pick, but I'm nothing if not persnickety.

The victim, the vandals, the neighbors, and the newspaper all come out losers here. Isn't DC great?


This Ought to Be Fun

Oh boy! Mayor Fenty is taking the US Court of Appeals ruling that the DC handgun ban is unconstitutional all the way to the Supreme Court! If the Court grants a writ of certiorari, and I think the four liberal justices will, it will be the first Second Amendment case to be heard buy the Court in almost 70 years. If no writ is granted, then we get our guns.

Even if the case does go to the Court, I think it'll be a toss-up. This is exactly the sort of thing where Justice Kennedy will be the pivotal swing vote. I bet they decide to uphold the Appeals Court's decision. And that would be the right decision.

The DC handgun ban is an absolute joke. Councilmembers and the Mayor speak of it reverently. This law, after all, has saved countless lives. Right?

The District's law bars all handguns unless they were registered before 1976; it was passed that year to try to curb gun violence, but it has come under attack in Congress and in the courts.

Well, 1977 was the year of the Great District Crime Drop. Wait. It wasn't? Murder rates increased between 1976 and 1977? Except for a one year blip in 1985, DC murder rates have never decreased back to 1976 levels when handguns were legal. Between 1976 and 2007, DC became the "Murder Capital of the World" before seeing the murder rates cut drastically. Gun bans had nothing to do with the increase or the decrease. It's a fantasy that councilmembers tell themselves to appease the District's liberal anti-gun population.

Well, fuck the anti-gun population. I much prefer the integrity of the Constitution. Civil liberties are far too important to legislate away. If people want handguns for protection, godspeed to them. Any honest interpreter of the Second Amendment should agree with me.


This Teacher Should Probably be Fired

I guess there's some controversy in Montgomery County over the contextual use of the word "nigger." The word appears in a whole slew of high school level books and MoCo schools are having a discussion about the slur before its students dive into To Kill a Mockingbird and "Huck Finn." Hilariously, MoCo is giving its high school students more credit than The Washington Post is giving its readers. The Post continues to dance around the word "nigger" by calling it the "N-word." If ever there was a contextually appropriate time to use the word, it would be in the middle of a news story. I understand wanted to avoid offending people, but using coy nicknames only cheapens the story.

Of course, the Post could have a point since MoCo is shutting down this aspect of their curriculum. People complained. Of course, the reason for the complaint was more than just the use of the word. The teacher proved herself to be wildly racially insensitive.

The teacher, who is white, read aloud from the essay and asked students to mark the word each time it appeared. She imitated stereotypical African American body language and elocution, Maya [Jean-Baptiste, high school student] told board members, "moving her neck and pointing her finger."

Oh no she dinnnn't! *snap* *snap*

Can you imagine how horribly awkward that would be to see that. A white woman reading an essay with the word "nigger" playing up racist black stereotypes? Good God. Was blackface not available? No wonder people complained.

(By the way, am I the only one who went to a school that assumed people could handle the word without needing contextual exercises like this? Can students not differentiate literature from hatred anymore? Is this a public school thing?)

Here's the official rundown on how the Metro area handles this stuff:

D.C. parents may opt not to have their children read Lee's book, which is taught after a preparatory lesson on Jim Crow, civil rights and the justice system, according to John White, a spokesman for the school system. "Huckleberry Finn" is not taught in the school system. Arlington students read "Mockingbird" and "Huckleberry Finn," prefaced by lessons on epithets and "why the words are no longer used," said Linda Erdos, a spokeswoman for the school system.

Good God. You can opt out of one of the greatest examples of American literature? I'm sorry, but I can not think of a book that's more anti-racism than To Kill a Mockingbird. I hate being one of those people who complain about political correctness gone mad, but, Jesus Christ. TO KILL A FUCKING MOCKINGBIRD

MoCo should fire that teacher. She clearly can't handle the nuances of racial sensitivity. And DC should fucking grow a pair and make everyone read this classic novel. If students finish the book and decide its perpetuating racism, then, well, DC schools are more screwed than I thought.


LNSers Embarassing Themselves

I hated the recent article regarding LNS, obviously. Old news. Kind of plagiaristy.

LNSers though really hated it. And they aren't doing themselves any favors. Since Angela Valdez's article was published today, LNSers have posted her cell number, her e-mail address, and a picture of a grave with her name on it. One picture accuses her of being a "beaner." They are threatening to sue her. Others are threatening to rape her. It's astonishing.

If any of my readers are members (like I am), check these out:


The entire point of my last post was that no one cares anymore about Late Night Shots. Old news. But even I didn't think its members were capable of such disgusting behavior.


Back in November I mentioned that there was a certain newspaper in DC that I would never link to on this site again. Well, that rag has dedicated this week's front page to Late Night Shots. It publishes offensive posts from their increasingly boring comment threads. It has the author crash LNS events at Smith Point. Real fantastic hands-in-the-mud journalism.

Sorry guys, but you're about a year late to the party. That's a social offense even worse than mistaking loafers for boating shoes. My first LNS mention on this site was on June 1, 2006. Wonkette picked up on it soon after. My first Smith Point crash was in November (where I finally met the very polite, affable, and legendary Reed Landry). After their Valentine's party I stopped giving a shit. I'm not the only one. Wonkette hasn't published a "Last Week's Shots" in forever.

I noted that a good number of the posts published today were in Wonkette first. I would be furious if I were them. It's easy to write a cover story when a good deal of the research has already been done for you.

No one cares about LNS anymore. Just like no one cares about this shitty and increasingly irrelevant paper.


You're a Superstar Livin' in the 306 208

Many of you have noted that I live in Friendship Heights. Ward 3. The 2nd Police District. Life is sweet for me. Two Metro stops, no crime, good shopping. Did you know that the 2nd District only handles 5 percent of the District's emergency calls? Pretty sweet. Two chickens in every pot, two cars in every garage, and two cops on every street corner.

Police Chief Lanier has noted that while the 2nd District is living easy, the 3rd District is being overburdened. The 3rd District handles 21 percent of the city's emergency calls and the system is overloaded. Solution: Take one part of the 3rd District (Dupont/U Street) and merge it with the 2nd. Cops will still be working the same beats.

Ah, but it wouldn't be DC without some assholes getting riled up about helping people in the more dangerous parts of the city.

"This is a big deal," said Spence Spencer, president of the Palisades Citizens Association. "Most concerning is that there will be a de facto drain of resources away from us."

1. Spence Spencer? Are you kidding me? Spence Spencer!?

2. Fuck the Palisades. Fuck your nice restaurants and old-timey charm. Fuck your total inaccessibility. The only way I can get to this neighborhood is by walking along a freaking parkway. That shit is dangerous. The Palisades might as well be Bowie, Lancaster, or Herndon.

3. Well, your calls to 911 for Palisades crime (loitering?) will still be heeded. You'll still have the same amount of officers on the Palisades streets. Almost nothing will change. Other than the 2nd District's crime rate. That will probably double. Uh-oh. Wouldn't want to hurt that precious Palisades property value, would we?

4. I don't know how much of a shut-in you are, Spence, but I bet you occasionally wander into the Dupont area for some fine dining. Maybe you'll be checking out a museum, enjoying an Appletini at Kramerbooks, or, depending which way you swing, grinding with the boys at The Fireplace. The PSA in question, 306, is filled with all sorts of things for a Palisidian to do. I would hate for you to get mugged there only to find a delayed police response because the 3rd District call center is packed while the 2nd District call center is overflowing with complaints about loud rock music and cats in trees.

Cleveland Park resident Bill Adler put it slightly more eloquently:

"It's not like I live my entire life in Cleveland Park and don't go to Dupont Circle or Logan Circle for dinner sometimes," Adler said. "Crime is fluid. We have to share."

Bravo, Mr. Adler!

And bravo, Chief Lanier. The switch from 306 to 208 is a wonderful idea. Please do not let NIMBY ass-hats like Spence(r) prevent a change that will lead to a safer downtown.


I am Angry and Not Above Begging

I am 30 minutes into this God-forsaken "virtual waiting room." Stupid 9:30 Club. This is the best system they could come up with? Randomly selecting people from a black screen?

It has become apparent that I will not be attending the Smashing Pumpkins show this Tuesday. Luckily, I have a blog. I still have a puncher's chance.

If you were somehow miraculously able to acquire tickets to this show, please do not bring your friend or your significant other. Bring me. Please. I will wait in line nice and early so we can be up close. I will buy your beer. Just take me, for the love of God.

Alright, off to Craigslist.


And I'm Sick of Listening to NPR, Too

Did you have a good holiday? Mine was fantastic. Good eats and cheap beer. What a country!

I did some party-hopping and depended on taxis to get me around. I even flagged one with a meter! It was cheaper than the zone system. Get on that, Fenty.

Unfortunately, getting into a cab was more difficult than I anticipated. I imagined that most of the cabs were around the Mall to get tourists from the fireworks back to their hotels. However, the cabs that did pass me by were especially frustrating. Why can't cabbies in this stupid city shut off their taxi light when they already have passengers? I mean, it's not that fucking hard. Other cities' cabbies are able to do with little to no fuss.

I know innovations like taxi lights and meters might be new and confusing to some in the city, but I bet people will figure it out in time. The 20th Century awaits! Excelsior!


On the Plus Side, Fort Reno was Lovely.

Yesterday I went to my first Fort Reno show. That’s actually kind of depressing considering I have always lived in or around Tenleytown (save for two months in Bethesda) and you’d think free concerts would be an ideal way to spend a summer’s night.

I was there to see Ian MacKaye’s new band The Evens. A confession: I have never heard a Fugazi or a Minor Threat song in my life. There’s no excuse. I’m told Fugazi is fantastic. (Note: I’ve been told this for years by my older brother who is responsible for me liking Led Zeppelin and hating The Doors. Obviously I take his musical opinions seriously. He saved me from thinking Jim Morrison was deep. Thank Christ he got to me before I went to college.) I only know of MacKaye by reputation. And let’s be honest. MacKaye’s reputation is that he and Chuck Brown are the musical centers of DC. They are local stars that shine so bright that everything else revolves around them. That’s a huge responsibility.

The Washington City Paper infamously went as far as to blame MacKaye for ruining DC’s music scene by being such a straightedge killjoy. I found the article to be amusing, but, since it was printed in such a sorry excuse for a newspaper, I didn’t consider it anything but a hatchet job. Being straight edge by no means should be equated with being a killjoy.

Well, shows what I know. The City Paper may have been right. The Evens show was an absolute disgrace. The evening was only salvaged by the good company I surrounded myself with. MacKaye’s interactions with the audience were mostly limited to:

1. Fight the power, man! MacKaye urged everyone to support Fort Reno so “The Man” doesn’t shut it down.

2. Be responsible! MacKaye mentioned an incident last year where someone set off fireworks during a concert. Now, Fort Reno wasn’t able to have Porta-Johns. His constand reminders that our actions have negative consequences that affect us all reminded me of my dad. Ian, we are not here to be lectured. We are here to listen to your supposedly great music.

3. Everyone sing along! Folks, there is nothing more depressing than an icon urging his hometown audience to sing along and failing miserably.

The entire event was embarrassing. The center of the DC rock scene was indeed a killjoy who was at least a full decade past his prime. Normally this would be forgivable. What I can’t forgive is how bad The Evens were live. Good gracious what a terrible show. Two singers with extremely limited voices put their vocals so high in the mix that you literally could not hear any guitar. Call me a traditionalist, but I prefer to hear the guitar at the concerts I attend. The Evens’s songs were at best boring and at worst poorly composed. It was amateur night at Fort Reno.

It no longer surprises me that DC’s music scene is so weak. I'm sure Minor Threat and Fugazi were fantastic. Those days are long past. One of DC's most treasured icons is now babbling shit like this:

“McKaye has stated that he is a vegetarian because he feels it's a logical progression from his view of straight edge.”

Well fuck you, Ian. I like booze and meat. I may not be straight edge. But I certainly have the “I’m not a sanctimonious asshole edge.”

If I were Ian MacKaye, I would consider shutting the fuck up and retiring gracefully. Let someone else take the reins of the DC scene. He does not rock. He does not inspire me to become a better person. He was DC's shining star. Now he's a black hole.

Metro Routes

I admit I'm no city planner. If I were in charge, I wouldn't know the first thing about making the trains run on time. However, I suspect that I have an idea how bus routes are supposed to work. One would imagine that these buses should take major roads. Smaller buses for smaller routes (like Tenleytown's N8 and M4) can take the back roads. All other buses should stick mostly to roads that are named after letters, numbers, or states.

So the H3 completely baffles me. I've been traveling a bit to and from Mount Pleasant and this bus is an absolute disaster. Why is a major bus going down small roads like Veazey Street? This road is in the middle of a residential neighborhood with street parking. In other words, there's really only one lane available for driving. Every time the bus reaches opposing traffic, we have to wait for the driver of the other car to book it in reverse and get out of our way. This takes forever when we hit more than one car. It costs both the bus and the passenger valuable time.

I have never seen a person board the bus on Veazey or get off on Veazey. The H4 covers the same general area but takes Wisconsin Avenue. Doesn't that make more sense? I mean, four lanes of traffic is more suitable for a bus. It's not rocket science.

I'm sure there are a few bus routes that are as senseless as the H3 that I don't ride and therefore don't know about. I'd love to hear about them in the comments.