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.