2.29.2008

I Think DC is Wasting Its Money


Shown: Three crossing guards on 17th and Eye, NW. Picture taken by a cell phone at approximately 1:45pm on Thursday, February 28.

Not Shown: The other four crossing guards manning the intersection at the exact same time.

Also Not Shown: The traffic signals doing the same exact job as the seven crossing guards.

The only intersections where I've seen traffic conditions improved by crossing guards are 14th and K (by Franklin Square) and 17th and K (by Farragut Square). And in both of examples, I have never seen more than two crossing guards in one intersection at once. So seven of them was especially noteworthy.

But I guess seven people doing the same amount of work that could be accomplished by zero is an interesting and novel approach to fixing DC's unemployment crisis.

2.28.2008

Idiot Tax, Indeed

I've always marveled at people who get all riled up over slot machines and casinos but look the other way when it comes to state lotteries. Congress even went one step further and outlawed Internet gambling but allowed exceptions for state lotteries and horse racing. Slot machines and blackjack are both excellent ways to raise a lot of money while not fleecing your citizenry. Blackjack and slots pay out over 90 cents for every dollar spent. Powerball and scratch tickets can't even come close to matching that.

But casinos are so very far away. So, yeah, I occasionally buy scratch tickets. Never more than two at a time. And I never spend more than $5. I never win, but I still enjoy that excitement that maybe this one ticket will be my avenue to greater fortune. I'm lucky enough where I can get away with that without putting my future at risk. For some, scratch tickets are a retirement plan.

DC, taking a cue from McDonald's, features a Monopoly ticket. I love me some Monopoly. I used to play it fiendishly. I actually went as far as to buy a Monopoly strategy guide. Which is sort of crazy, but it helps. Do you know the five properties that are mathematically most likely to be landed on? I do!

So, I bought a Monopoly scratch ticket. They tell me six properties and I scratch off the corresponding part of the board (which I have memorized). Easy peasy, Japanesey.

My first five properties (States, Atlantic, Marvin Gardens, Tennessee, and Kentucky) all come up losers. Try again. My sixth property is Pennsylvania. So I scratch off Pennsylvania Avenue and...

Holy Shit. I won $250! $250!!!

The people I'm watching Project Runway with don't believe me. They think it's some elaborate hoax. But I pass the ticket around and they concur. I am now a hundredaire.

The episode starts and we all shush and give Bravo our undivided attention. (And, yes, they did manage to throw in another one of those crazy Anacostia furniture commercials.)

Then, during the first commercial break, it hits me: There is a Pennsylvania Railroad.

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKK.

I only scratched off the top part of the property. What if it says "Railroad" instead of "Avenue"?

*scratch scratch scratch*

&@$#(&$$*()*%#)@)

"Railroad."

*scratch scratch scratch*

"TRY AGAIN"

You know, if you're going to have a game that's meant to take the money from the stupid, at least give them the benefit of the doubt and avoid having the only avenue that shares a name with a railroad be a big winner. I somehow went from throwing away two dollars on a whim to losing $250. It felt like I had it and I lost it.

DC scratch tickets will take your money and then kick you while you're down.

2.27.2008

TMI: Rock Creek Park Edition

If you read Tweaks's blog, you know that she is one of the nastiest writers out there. Like, how many menstruation posts does one blog need? Well, Tweaks, I am about to take your crown and blow your grossiness out of the water.

I was loathe to post this, but my friends (Terri, Toby, and Agatha) seem to think this is the funniest thing ever and have told me to write about this post-haste.

(Let it be noted that there is really no DC hating in this post. So if you're looking for me complain about the Metro or Reed Landry's Neil Diamond habits, please check back later.)

Last Friday night the Missus and I went out to a romantic meal at Chipotle. I got a pork burrito bowl with black beans and loads of hot sauce. No tortilla and no cheese. After all, I'm on a diet. We were getting ready for a night on the keg bus. Yes, it was a friend's birthday and they wanted to combine binge drinking with forward motion. Really a win-win proposition.

So after an epic burrito bowl, my lady (Terri) and I bought some rum and gin for the bus. I had rum duty and Terri had gin duty. My roommate wanted to make Long Island Iced Teas. So we obliged, made about ten liters worth of one of the strongest drinks imaginable, and drove off in our yellow chariot.

I had about six Miller Genuine Drafts. Not my favorite, but drinking Bell's Two Hearted Ale on a tricked out school bus seemed a bit too dainty. I wouldn't touch a Long Island with a ten foot pole. Anything with tequila in it is disqualified from consumption. Terri had no such issue and downed three of them in about an hour.

Not surprisingly, Terri got very, very drunk and we decided to leave the bus when it zipped past her Columbia Heights neighborhood. We got home and I immediately ordered a bacon/pepperoni/sausage pizza from Domino's. How's my diet going? Fuck you. That's how it's going.

The next morning I decided that to make up for the previous day's gluttony, I would walk home. It's about a four or five mile hike through the park. I figured a nice brisk walk would be a great start to the weekend.

I decided to take Park Road instead of Porter. At the time, it was a poor decision. Although Park is a much prettier walk, it's also considerably more dangerous. There are no sidewalks and there are enough blind curves to make any pedestrian fear for their lives. It was a decision I would not regret.

After about a mile, I felt a horrible rumbling in my tummy. Only a few steps later I realized I would have to make a stop at the next Starbucks. (There is no better place for a quick bathroom break than a Starbucks).

I quickly realized that the nearest Starbucks was miles away. And I had to go. Now. Like, oh my God, right now. I had six beers and two pounds of meats, cheeses, hot sauce, and beans in my system. This was going to be epic.

I was so excited to walk past the tennis courts. Tennis courts must have bathrooms! Where else would people pee!

The Rock Creek park tennis courts did not have bathrooms. I guess people just peed in the woods. So, um, my options are limited.

So, scavenger hunt! The first person to find my feces wins a six pack. It's not buried or anything so it shouldn't be too difficult.

Here's a hint:


View Larger Map

I was not joking when I said "TMI." I'll exacerbate it by mentioning that it had rained before and all the leaves I used for my business were really, really wet.

And, God damn it, tennis courts should have at least a Porta-Potty or something.

2.26.2008

TMI: Don't Let Them Bite Edition

What better way to complain about media oversaturation than to feature two articles on the supposedly covered-to-death subject. That's what The Washington Post did today regarding bedbugs. An article complaining about the surplus of bedbug horror stories right next to a bedbug horror story. Talk about speaking out of both sides of your mouth.

Do I have any readers who have had bedbug infestations? Because I suffered through one for almost a year. It was absolute Hell. One was crawling on my head and fell into my ear. I had to stab it to death with a Q-Tip. My bedsheets were covered in blood dots. I woke up at least three times every night. Even when I wasn't getting bit I would wake up and turn the lights on quickly just to make sure.

If you've suffered through bedbugs, you know that all the newspaper stories in the world aren't enough.

2.25.2008

Quality, Comfort, and Price (That's Nice)

Mention "Bernie & Phyl's" to a New Englander and you're going to hear the jingle that's doubling as the title to this post. For some reason, local furniture suppliers have a large place in the heart of Massholes. It's like the Eastern Motors (your job's your credit, credit!) of Massachusetts.

When DC does have furniture commercials, well, my God. I think these atrocities speak for themselves:



AND



I know there is something deeply offensive about these commercials (other than the surplus of man titties). But I can't quite my finger on it. It's such a bombardment of crazy.

These commercials have been all over Bravo this week. I can't imagine anyone watching Millionaire Matchmaker* finding these commercials persuasive. Hell, I can't think of anyone finding these commercials persuasive or even entertaining. What's the target audience here?

I guess the most offensive thing about the commercials is the assumption that people in the DC media market are so stupid that they'd be impressed by two shirtless dudes waving American flags and an unattractive woman shaking her ass. They're banking on the stupidity of DC furniture buyers.

Unfortunately, that might not be a bad idea.

*I admit watching Millionaire Matchmaker is basically the equivalent of me voluntarily giving up anything resembling some sort of moral high ground. Whatever. Watching an asshole fix up rich assholes with shallow assholes while her asshole employees plot a mutiny is incredibly compelling television. Now I need to take a shower.

2.21.2008

La Incompetencia Tiene Consecuencias

"It's important to have a job that makes a difference, boys. That's why I manually masturbate caged animals for artificial insemination."

Ah, Clerks.

Now, not to put down animal masturbators, but is that job really any more important than being a guidance counselor? That's the gist of the joke. It's better to jerk off a horse than it is to tell high school kids what classes to take.

I don't know what the consequences are for bad masturbators, but it turns out bad counselors have a bit more responsibility than we may give them credit for. And when they fuck up, they fuck up bad. So bad DC public schools are no longer allowing freshmen to take foreign language classes.

You see, there are no foreign language requirements in DC. There are, thank God, math, science, and English requirements. But no foreign languages. Those are electives. The problem is that DC guidance counselors are so God damned incompetent that DC students aren't fulfilling their core requirements. Like, the most basic and simplest pat of guidance counseling should be to make sure a student has the credits required to graduate. And they can't handle it. Christ. I could do this for them. It can not be that hard.

So Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, in order to protect students from their counselors' ineptitude, says no more foreign talk until you're a sophomore.

If this needs to be done, it needs to be done. Only 58% of DC students graduate high school. That's a humbling number. Getting people in and out of high school with basic skills is more important than having a drop-out that can conjugate Spanish verbs.

But oh my goodness does this fuck over the college bound kids. Many universities, especially ones that specialize in communications, require at least two years of foreign language training. Some require the entire four. And if you're a DC student who wants in that hypothetical school, then what? Then you're shit out of luck.

Even if a school doesn't require intense foreign language training, there's no denying that those courses look awfully good on a high school transcript. Chancellor Rhee is making it harder for DC students to attend good colleges. Madness.

But in a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation, I give Ms. Rhee credit for picking the option that will help the most people. She's probably doing the right thing. Hell, I only took two years of French in high school (I ne parle pas the Francais) and I turned out alright. DC students should follow my lead and shoot for the stars...assuming "the stars" means a second-tier university. Anything above that is pushing it.

So a big "Thank Fuck You!" to those guidance counselors whose idiocy has led to the further weakening of the DC school system. Bravo!

I think I would take a bullet before letting my child attend DC public schooling. If push came to shove, I could move. I pity those who aren't blessed with the same opportunities.

(h/t DCist)

2.20.2008

This Now Borders on Parody

On nice days, I like to take these six or seven mile walks. Nothing too strenuous. The goal is to spend at least a little bit of time on a nice day exercising instead of playing Rock Band or Tiger Woods Golf all day. A bonus of these little walks is that I get to see parts of the city that are still new to me. It's a good excuse to go out and see if Dalecarlia Parkway* really is all that.

Last weekend I decided to walk northeast on Nebraska Avenue, curve up Oregon Avenue, and then take Western all the way home. It was probably the most boring walk of my life. There is nothing to see there. It's just house after house.

Perhaps I should have looked a little deeper. Sure, the walk featured nothing but houses and a military retirement community. But one of the houses was special. One of the houses was not just a house, but a home. A home to the greatest thief in the history of DC. 6880 Oregon Avenue, NW. The home of Harriette Walters.

The Washington Post is reporting that Walters stole approximately $50,000,000.00 without anyone noticing. Which is shocking, but not too shocking. The Examiner has been reporting that the amount that Walters (and her accomplices) had fleeced from the noble DC taxpayer was actually quite higher than previously reported.

What's really shocking is the culture that had allowed this theft to happen. Here you have a government employee giving away money to her co-workers and not asking for any repayment. Here are a few excerpts from the Post story detailing how Walters's colleagues and friends were all too willing to look the other way:

Two of the sources, who are familiar with the accounts of witnesses, said the gifts included $35,000 to a co-worker who wanted to remodel her house, $25,000 in cash and luxury gifts to an assistant whom Walters began mentoring and $15,000 each to help two co-workers' daughters pay for renovations and credit card bills.

Walters repeatedly lent huge chunks of cash to colleagues with no requests for repayment, the two sources quoted witnesses as saying. And, said the sources, citing witnesses, Walters paid for her goddaughter's college tuition and a New Jersey home for $855,000. The goddaughter's attorney declined to comment on the case.

...

Walters took young women in her office, even those she knew only casually, on four-figure shopping sprees at Saks and Neiman Marcus and picked up the tab, according to information provided to authorities. Witnesses have told investigators that Walters also gave hundreds of dollars, over time, to security guards outside the tax agency's North Capitol Street office, the sources familiar with the probe said.

It was not unusual, sources said, for Walters to give a wad of cash to her assistant to buy breakfast or lunch for her 15-member office -- two or three times a week.

Some of the missing city money went toward buying property in the Washington area, New Jersey and the Caribbean, prosecutors have said, as well as for luxury cars, Louis Vuitton handbags and gambling trips to Atlantic City and Las Vegas.

Sorry for all the italics, but it's important to note how fucking ridiculous it is that no one realized that something was afoot. Shopping sprees, property buys, lending money with no expectation for repayment. These all passed the smell test? If a co-worker randomly gave me thousands of dollars, I would assume that money was ill-gotten. So I don't see how this could have been going on for 18 years without someone speaking up.

Wait, yes I do. Their silence was bought. They didn't want to rock the boat when their financial needs were being met by the richest government employee in American history. In my mind, that makes them all guilty. Every last one.

And just for shits and giggles:

In the past decade, mostly under the leadership of Natwar M. Gandhi, the office has spent more than $100 million on a new computer system for the tax office and at least $1 million a year on external city audits.

We might as well have set that money on fire for all the good it did. Or, even better, Gandhi should have just let Walters steal it. It would add a few more decades to her richly deserved time in a federal penitentiary.

When this investigation is complete, I will be shocked if Gandhi still has a job in the DC government. I've been calling for his firing for months now. It's becoming more and more inevitable.

In the meantime, we can prepare ourselves for one kick ass tax auction.

*Dalecarlia Parkway, at least in terms of walking, is not all that. All blind corners and no sidewalks. Walk at your own risk.

2.18.2008

Ew

Oh, Tonic. Home of delicious tater tots and bacon filled Bloody Marys (Maries?). Not a bad place for brunch.

One of the cute little draws of Tonic is they have a cup filled with Crayons at every table. Yay! Fun! You can draw whatever your heart desires.

What's not fun is when you're served water out of the same cups used to hold Crayons. Complete with wax stains and everything:



Please note the red, green, and blue specks. Yuck.

Of course, talking to someone about this was a lost cause. You see, Tonic is located in Mt. Pleasant. And I've found it impossible to get anything resembling good service in either Mt. Pleasant or Adams Morgan. It's at the point where I mentally add another 20 minutes to my meal. That's how it long it takes for a typical waiter to get me my check after taking my plates.

This shit would not fly at Chef Geoff's.

2.14.2008

This Time It's Personal

I was very late to work today. I hate being late. I feel like such an ungrateful asshole. Like, thanks for the salary and the benefits, but, no, I couldn't get to the office on time.

The traffic on 16th street (I was taking the S2 to work) was horrible. The worse I had ever seen on a street in DC (not counting highways of course). It was at a standstill. Maybe there was an accident. Or an emergency. Whatever it was, my two mile trip took 50 fucking minutes.

Was it an accident or an emergency? No. It was a taxi strike.

Those motherfuckers are purposely clogging downtown DC so they can honk in front of the Wilson Building. These striking assholes have made me late to work. They may have made you late for work too. So allow me to reiterate:

DO NOT TIP A DRIVER WHO SUPPORTS THE STRIKE.

Remember that this strike isn't for better working conditions or for less hours. It's to keep a system that is entirely dependent on their paying customers' ignorance. The zone system is weird and antiquated. I have lived in the city for seven years and I still can't figure out the zone map. Why the fuck is north facing left? That makes no sense!

And don't give me that bullshit about the new zone map. I've seen it online. I've never seen it in a cab.

These strikers are filthy thieves. I can not stress this enough. By continually lying about prices, they are stealing from us. That's the system they want to protect. And I'm sick of scumbags trying to rip me off.

First thing tomorrow morning I am checking Page B1 of the Post. I better see a story about these assholes getting tickets for misuse of their horns and for clogging traffic.

So Stupid It's Surreal

So we're paying $673,603,097.00 (DC's revised budget as of 12/31/07) to revitalize the Navy Yard. We're paying $200,000,000.00 to revitalize Southwest Washington. Why the Hell wouldn't we drop another $190,000,000.00 to revitalize Ward 8?

That's right, folks. We're up to over a billion dollars that's going to be invested in speculation. A billion dollars!!!!!

The best part is the $190,000,000.00 that would be used towards buying some wealthy guy a soccer stadium - as if anyone gives a shit about soccer - is actually extra revenue from the baseball stadium taxes. In other words, that money should be used to pay off our bonds. But, fuck it. More stadiums!

All to prevent some very rich man from taking his precious soccer team all the way to Prince George's County.

This is especially appalling because when Mayor Fenty was Councilmember Fenty, he voted against the public funding of the baseball stadium. He said it was an inappropriate waste of money! One of the things I liked about his election was that we weren't going to get any more stadiums on the public dime. Now we're getting more stadiums and a fancy hotel on the Potomac in SW DC.

ONE BILLION DOLLARS!

The city has a billion dollars to spare and instead of it going to us it's going to the super-wealthy. To team owners, professional baseball leagues, and gigantic construction that aren't even based in DC. (Which is ok when we do it, but not ok for the Nationals to have team functions in PG County.)

Fuck you, Washington. Fuck you hard.

2.13.2008

Shady Dealings

Mayor Fenty has been one of Senator Obama's biggest supporters. When he made that quixotic trip to convince New Hampshire politicians to apologize for not supporting DC voting rights, he was also taking to the streets for the junior Illinois senator. When it came time for the Potomac Primary, Fenty was out in the streets of DC waving Obama '08 signs.

Which is all well and good and perhaps preferable. An elected official getting so involved in the process and displaying such passion is likely to encourage others to go out and vote.

Then DCist reported that Mayor Fenty broke electioneering laws by publicly supporting a candidate in a voting place. You'd think an elected official would be pretty well versed in electioneering laws. I'm sure that a little over a year ago he was instructing his supporters not to cross any lines they weren't supposed to. Now, he's willing to bend break the rules for his candidate of choice. I just don't think it was an honest mistake.

Fenty's press secretary handled the issue marvelously and I filed the incident away until I got an e-mail this morning complaining about Fenty's alleged offense. This time, I actually bothered to read the story on Slate that DCist was linking to. And it's worse than DCist implied.

The mayor extended his hand, smiled, and asked if I was going to vote. When I responded in the affirmative, he asked, “Barack Obama?” After saying something inarticulate like, “Uh, OK,” I went in and cast my ballot. By the time I emerged, Fenty had disappeared. That’s when I realized that the mayor had been standing directly between two signs that demarcated a no-electioneering zone.

Reading DCist, I thought that Fenty was merely someplace he shouldn't have been in support of his candidate. An honest mistake for your average sign-waver, maybe a little more suspicious from an elected official. But Fenty was actually engaging in voters and subtly pressuring them to vote for his candidate.

The person who e-mailed me put it thusly:

...jesus christ- doesn't he even know that its wrong for ANYONE to ask you who you are going to vote for let alone an elected official in a position of authority????

Yeah, I'd say that hits the nail on the head. Fenty's alleged actions jumped from inappropriate to wildly inappropriate. The most powerful man in Washington was pressuring people to vote for a certain candidate inside a polling place. That has the power to sway voters. And Fenty knows that's against the rules. The rule of law and the rule of political etiquette.

I'd say, at the very least, an apology is in order.

2.11.2008

My First Vote For President That Kind of Matters!

Here I am, all of 25 years old, and I finally get a say in who will become nominee on the Democratic ticket. I've waited a long time for this. If only I were lucky enough to have been born 118 miles away in scenic Hampton Beach, NH. That would have been the ticket.

Other than gubernatorial elections and some wacky ballot initiatives, voting in Massachusetts is a waste of time. I mean, we had a senator kill someone and he still won 61.2% of the vote. Our junior senator was inaugurated into office before my second birthday. Suffice to say, Massachusetts is every bit the Democratic stronghold that its reputation suggests. And, unfortunately, this year was the first year where Massachusetts got to vote on a contested primary.

And yet I found a way to register somewhere that makes Massachusetts look red on the map. John Kerry won 90% of the 2004 presidential vote in the District. 90%! Even if Senator Obama is favored in a city filled with blacks and people with college degrees, he'll be hard-pressed to top 90%.

Tomorrow will be the only day on record where I kind of want to live in Virginia. Out of the three primaries tomorrow, Virginia seems to be the one where Senator Clinton has a fighting chance. Voting in close elections is always more fun and, unlike most of my peers, I'm a Hillary supporter. It feels good to vote for someone who might actually win. Unlike, say, throwing away your mayoral primary vote on Marie Johns.

But we have a presidential vote that matters! Hurray! This may sound lame, but I am genuinely excited for voting tomorrow. I hope you share my enthusiasm. Even you naive Obama supporters.

2.07.2008

Ugh



This was my graduation song. The class before me had Green Day's "Good Riddance." The classes after me were stuck with Eve 6's "Here's to the Night." How unfortunate for them.

Anyways, that opening lyric keeps sticking in my craw.

And so we talked all night about the rest of our lives/
Where we're gonna be when we turn 25

Well, today is my big plunge into the 2-5. Or, as my Dad calls it, the Big 1/4. According to Vitamin C, I should be reflecting on the past seven years and thinking of where I was and where I'm headed.

Man, I need a drink.

Also, fuck off Vitamin C. You were 30 when you recorded that song. I hope you're enjoying your ill-gotten royalties.

2.06.2008

I Hate Burying My New Post, But

*UPDATE BELOW*

WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS ALL ABOUT:


Is this a fever dream? I must be hallucinating this, right?

Here are the rules: There are no rules!!!

Just kidding. The big rule is that you have to be a member of Late Night Shots to apply. And you have to be between 21 and 29.

Well, that's not true. You have to be a Late Night Shots member to be accepted to this abortion of a reality show. Nothing can stop you from applying. So, take the time to download this and e-mail it with a photo to this address: info@pbandjtv.com. (Don't forget to put it to Havva's attention!)

Just what the city needs. A bunch of fucksticks drunkenly running around DC without a care in the world. While only a few miles away, there's enough poverty, unemployment, and despair to make some third world countries blush.

These smarmy shitheads must be destroyed.

UPDATE:

Apparently DCist beat me to the punch by a few hours. C'est la vie. Although, this excerpt chafed a little:

Late Night Shots, the invite-only, Georgetown social scene site first made famous by Wonkette and later by an investigative report by the Washington City Paper...

Hmph. Not true. Ladies and gentlemen, in case you've forgotten, I present the first ever blog post regarding Late Night Shots. Discovering these nincompoops is, for some very sad reason, a point of pride for me.

CNN Hot Spots! Empty Nesters Welcome!

So, CNN.com, I see you've taken the time to talk about the District's "new late-night spots." I'm sure this will be enlightening.

In the last few years, as more young professionals and empty nesters have bought homes in the nation's capital, D.C. has shifted from being a city of chilly Federal buildings to a place where cutting-edge restaurants, late-night caf├ęs, and underground bars open more frequently than local politicians are busted for scandals.

This is the second paragraph. No "spots" have been mentioned and I'm already annoyed. I love how people pretend that DC used to be stuffy but now it's very chic. Well, it's still stuffy and these young professionals and empty nesters are a big part of the problem. Nothing says "hip" like a single ladder-climbing lawyer in his 30s. As if that's any better than being a "stuffy" legislative assistant.

So, here's the list. With some comments of course.

Proof: 775 G St. NW, 202/737-7663, wine from $6.50

Portraits of George Washington and Hillary Clinton flash across flat-screens above the bar. Proof, like many things in the nation's capital, was inspired by the founding fathers. In this case, it's a nod to Benjamin Franklin, whom the bar quotes as saying, "Wine is proof that God loves us."

Oh. This sounds great. Pictures of Hillary Clinton and George Washington? Count me in!

The quote they're referring to is most likely bullshit too. It's always attributed to Bejamin Franklin, but more often than not he's talking about beer. Google sides with me on this one.

Brasserie Beck: 1101 K St. NW, 202/408-1717, beer from $7

Who wants to have a good time on 11th and K? That's a dead zone. And if the cheapest beer is $7, then how the Hell can it be listed under "budget travel" on CNN? Seven dollar beers do not fit in the budget of anyone I know.

Central Michel Richard: 1001 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202/626-0015, "faux gras" terrine $14

Another dead zone. Who wants to get their drink on by the Federal Triangle?

Ben's Chili Bowl: 1213 U St. NW, 202/667-0909, chili $5

This may be blasphemous, but I consider Ben's Chili Bowl to be outrageously overrated. Their half smokes are fine. Their chili and fries are disgusting. And it's always so busy. Why does Ben's get such a good rep when anyone with a half-working brain knows to avoid Steak 'n' Egg at all costs?

I mean, I know the reason why. It's because Ben's has been around forever. So why in the name of Fuck is it listed as a NEW hot spot!?

HR-57: 1610 14th St. NW, 202/667-3700, cover from $8

Never been. Can't comment.

Busboys and Poets: 2021 14th St. NW, 202/387-7638, pizza from $8

Only been once. The gazpacho was a disaster. No flavor and terrible texture. If they messed up something as easy as gazpacho, then I'm not exactly eager to try their pizza.

Bourbon: 2321 18th St. NW, 202/332-0800, from $5

I like the one in Glover Park more.

Metropolitain: 1847 Columbia Rd. NW, 202/299-9630, wine from $6

The decor is inspired by the 1970s, with gold-and-white wallpaper and cushiony leather couches -- but there's no sitting around after 10 p.m., when DJs spin disco.

That sounds like a blast. Disco? Disco is past the point of even ironic enjoyment.

I would have thought that CNN would be hard-pressed to make the city seem less bearable than the reality on the ground. But here we are. There's the usual ignorance of anyone or anything in Northeast or Southeast. And then they cherry-picked some of the worst parts of Northwest to boot.

Really, the best case scenario here is for some tourist to follow CNN's advice, have the worst time of their life (I would rather dick around the monuments than drink on 11th and K), and then Google "I hate DC." And then they will find me and they can know that they are not alone.

And to them I say, "Welcome."

2.05.2008

Taxi Drivers Still Determined to Rip Us Off

Yesterday was, apparently, the first day of the weekly taxi cab strike. Next week drivers will strike on Tuesday. The next week on Wednesday. In five weeks they could be putting my precious weekends at risk. Until then, it's no skin off of my back.

All of this to protest the glorious end of a broken system. I am delighted every time I get into a cab and realize that, in only a few short months, I won't have to crane my neck to understand the city's antiquated zone system. That Mayor Fenty lowered the minimum fare from a ridiculous $4 to a much more reasonable $3 was icing on the cake.

The strike was organized by a new organization called the Coalition of Cab Drivers, Companies and Associations of Washington, D.C. I'm going to call it the CCDCAWDC. The CCDCAWDC's chairman, Nathan Price suggested that getting rid of the zone system is either ill-conceived or "conceived very well to destroy the industry." Because nothing makes more sense than to destroy a city's taxi industry on purpose. Asshole.

I mean Price does make a solid point. There is obviously a lot of precedent of a city switching from zones to meters and having that city's taxi industry destroyed. Oh, wait. There isn't. because no one uses fucking zones because they are a stupid and antiquated way to charge people money.

And there's this line from the Post's coverage of the strike: "Striking drivers, however, are convinced that the switch will wreck their livelihoods."

Yeah, because the zone system is dependent on tricking people into paying more than they should. It's about knowing where the zone boundaries are and crossing them to pick up some extra dollars. Anyone striking to protect that doesn't deserve our business.

I've written this before, but this new strike gives me a reason to reiterate this: Do not tip any driver who strikes to protect the broken zone system. They are more interested in ripping us off then they are getting us from Point A to Point B.

Get in a cab, ask your driver if they were striking, plan on striking, or even supported the strike. Then dole out your tip money accordingly. If we can make it costlier for them to support zones than to support meters, then we can finally end this nonsense.