Ooh La What?

Washington, DC, is a town full of tools. If anyone ever tries to tell you differently, I invite you to simply look around you. Go ahead. Do a 360-degree spin in your office chair. What you're seeing is not cool. Your cubicle is not cool. Your coworkers, save for a couple outliers (if you're lucky), are not cool. Your federal job is also not cool. Which brings me to today's point of concern. Why do serious, major media outlets keep telling me the election of a politician who looks different than other politicians but is still a politician going to make this place cool?

Guess what? He's not. He's only one man. And he's not that cool. Like I said, he's a politician. The last politician that was cool was Franklin Pierce and that was only because of his hair and accompanying drinking problem. Pierce partied hard. Obama is a family man. He wears pleated pants. His wife takes style cues from J.Crew. And he has children. This man is simply not that cool. So why is Agence France Presse, a major French newswire, asking, "Can Obama make Washington the capital of cool?"

No. No he can't.

Like I said, he's not that cool. However, the French press seems to disagree, as evidenced through their penning of an article that
seems to be largely based on false hope, myth and probably a good deal of fois gras (so wrong, but so delicious). Take a look:

Soon-to-be US president Barack Obama shoulders the hopes of millions, but there is one important wish his neighbors in Washington are hoping will be granted — to make the capital cool again. ... "Every four years in DC there's a chance to take a deep breath and start over," historian Robert Watson told AFP.

And Obama, who won the 2008 election propelled by a mandate of change, could significantly "invigorate the mood" of the capital, according to Watson, director of American Studies at Florida's Lynn University.

I tried to Google image search this so-called "Robert Watson," but alas, he's not even cool enough to be Googled. If he was, though, I imagine he'd look exactly like your boss. Who's not cool, by the way. But to give you some perspective into the irony of a bunch of historians and reporters throwing the word "cool" around as if it were a government acronym, let's just go ahead and suppose that another Robert Watson -- Sir Robert Watson-Watt, the man who supposedly invented the radar -- is Mr. Robert Watson-historian's doppelganger.

Not cool.

Yeah. That's who's telling us Washington is cool again.

But wait! There's more! A 26-year-old waiter at Mandu in "chic" Dupont Circle (the purported "chicness" of which is a whole other rant) named Rich Homann also thinks Obama will make DC cool. "Obama will reinvigorate not only the country as a whole, but DC in particular," he told AFP, adding his "progressive outlook should serve to attract our country's best, brightest and coolest."

Um, because the people who signed up for Young Democrats in college were infinitely cooler than those in the Young Republicans. Wait, no, they actually all looked like this:

Not cool.

So please, major media outlets, stop spreading these vicious lies. We is what we is. And what we is is definitely not cool. (Did they not notice the khaki?!) And ready your hisses and boos for me, because I'm about to say this: No amount of Obamagic can change the tooltastic town that is DC. Hell, real magic couldn't even change that. Trust me, I've seen people try. I've tried. But no matter how many BlackBerrys I sacrifice to the gods of slimmer fitting pants, nothing seems to work. And so we trudge on...


  1. I once met Obama early in the campaign. And by "meet," I mean that we collided in the media scrum and I stepped on his foot. Afterward, he snubbed me in the receiving line.

    I thought he was alright. He could definitely get a better looking chick.

  2. It's nice to see someone out there who's also anti-hope.

    Obama has done nothing to me, but people who write shit like this make me want to shove him into a sewer.

  3. @James: I'm not saying he won't change some of the policies of this country (although I think that is very much overhyped as well since he is very much a part of the mainstream that has led to the political shambles we find ourselves in today...), but I am definitely saying the dude is not that cool. And even if he was, his chances of making a town full of other tools cool, is like asking Rachel Ray to open her mouth and not sound like a 65-year-old trucker (sorry, I'm unemployed so I watch that now). You say "anti-hope," I say realistic. (God, if Rachel Ray says "YUMMY" one more time I'm going to have a seizure.)

  4. I'll take an intelligent president over a frat boy any day.

    Who cares if he's cool? It's not 8th grade.

  5. Policies, schmolicies.

    The article stated Obama "connected with his neighbors" by having a photo op at Ben's.

    Let me know when a 13 year-old punk in Columbia Heights throws a rock at him, because only then will I consider him a full-fledged DC citizen.

  6. the media is totally full of shit, but that's how these fluff pieces are. obviously some asshat from florida doesn't know shit about "the mood" in DC, beyond knowing what the "mood" is among offices in congress, as told by roll call.

    its like saying new york would become so much cooler if bono were made un secretary-general. one dude can't impact an entire region.

    but obama is way cooler than bush, and i'd argue maybe even cooler than bill clinton. he's cool in the way that teacher you had who wore jeans to class was cool--not someone you'd actually ever be friends with, but someone who is moderately interesting and does things that are kinda cool, and when you get old and boring you might kind of want to be like.

    so what ev's. i'm kind of over this whole nonsense political bickerings about change versus more of the same. i was really really over it after 2000, when i was informed that al gore is the same person as george bush.

  7. Welcome, Marissa!

    One thing that has poisoned the well of any potential coolness in DC has been how places like “Regent University School of Law” and “Messiah College” plant their loser spawn in once respectable agencies like the Department of Justice. It’s trickle-down fakery: Cheney & Rove dropouts, Rice from the barely accredited University of Denver, Bush a legacy admit who has to clamor for someone to believe he’s read anything more than My Pet Goat. That’s part and parcel of a certain political party’s contempt for education—their success at the polls depends on keeping voters ignorant from childhood onward. Maps of illiteracy and high school dropout rates might as well be our familiar red state/blue state charts. Take a look at readers of the Washington Times, or USAToday (and its shallow, flashy Newseum), and you’ve got the demographic.

    These angry, rebellious second rate minds come here and imagine they are cool, when as usual, trying-to-be-cool only dilutes the coolness of whatever they’re trying to imitate. By now, the khaki-clad morons don’t even know enough to know they’re way off the mark.

    Today we hear from a nobody like Alex Ogle (I remember more profound writing in my first grade Weekly Reader), quoting somebody named Robert Watson, who teaches at the illustrious Lynn University in Boca Raton, and who publishes books on first ladies by no-name presses.

    See the problem here? Who cares what they think? Have they no shame?

    All very, very uncool. The one thing we can hope for is that with the fundamentalist right-wing out of power, maybe proud stupidity will no longer be quite as cool (in the northern cities at least).

    We’ll see. We’ll sit in judgment.

  8. We obviously didn't have the same jeans-wearing teacher. Mine also had a pony tail.

    And Johannes, DC has been shit for a while, no matter who's in the White House. Earnest left-wingers have been getting off the bus from Peoria every week for a generation. Vegan hiptards renting a group home in Mount Pleasant are no cooler than the much-maligned frat boys poppin collars in Glover Park.

  9. The University of Denver is "barely accredited"? What the hell are you talking about Johannes? Their school for international studies is considered one of the best in the country.
    Also, Rice was a professor at Stanford. Is that accredited enough?

  10. Hi, James. Evidently for the young'ens, "a generation" means all the way back to the 1990s. A breathtaking view of history, that, and my point exactly. Even Robert Watson sounds like a good man (rooting for universal health care and such), but habitu├ęs of the towns and neighborhoods you seem so familiar with really ought to wear their baseball caps low and keep their eyes down.

    Ask anyone in Palo Alto what they think about Doctor Rice's misbegotten stay at the Farm. Note too that she's going to back to Hoover, not the real university. Wouldn't now be a good time to trot out the fib that this Stanford Sovietoloist is fluent in Russian, or applaud her playing chopsticks for her betters around the globe? The nepotistic fakery just never quits. Pretense just ain’t cool. Get it?

  11. This was a post of exceptional solidity.

  12. Johannes, you're doing it wrong.

  13. Uh huh.

    This is the city that launched a "war on rats." And lost it. This is the place where the zip-car driving mayor shows up to dedicate the opening of a new Target. Where any Democrat with a pipe and a dream can get elected mayor with Saddam Hussein-style majorities. The city where "Chinatown" is synonymous with "Bed Bath & Beyond."

    But yeah, there are way too many fundamentalists riding the metro from west falls church to their government jobs. Once we lose them, we can really turn things around.

  14. I'd rather DC stay lame than have a city more overrun by the elitist pricks that Johannes apparently wants here.

  15. You could dig up JFK himself, re-animate him, elect him President and bring his "jovial party atmosphere" back to DC, and it wouldn't mean shit for 99.99999% of the people who live here.

    The historian from this "Lynn University," the waiter in Dupont and the guy who wrote this shit should all be sentenced to clean up duty along new york avenue, NE.

  16. Say what you will, U2 and the Boss would not be coming to town to perform a free show if Tuesday was another Bush inauguration.

  17. I live and work in DC, and all but two of my coworkers (3 dozen or so) commute from at _least_ 30 miles away. Therefore it is no coincidence many of my male coworkers salivate over Rachel Ray.

    Not the food. The chubby chick with the annoying voice who prepares the food. Drool.

    Pass the EVOO.

  18. Marissa, if it is any consolation:

    I want you.

  19. Whoa. I'm not used to having this much reader feedback. It's not like this on MY BLOG. Just sayin'.

    Here are some thoughts addressing some of the comments in random order: Thanks to the anonymous person who called this post exceptional in its solidity; I don't think Bono is that cool and U2 is WAY overrated; I think Michelle Obama is a good-looking woman; It bothers me that Condoleezza (sp?) was probably the smartest and most qualified appointee of Bush's; Rachel Ray annoys the hell out of me; James is right -- "Vegan hiptards" and "frat boys poopin' (Ha! That's a typo but I'm leaving it.) collars" are pretty similar in their degree of eye-rolling annoyingness; Washington, DC, indeed, has the lamest "Chinatown" ever; JFK was kinda cool in that Franklin Pierce way, but the Kennedys can go away now; And by "want," Secret Adam, I'm hoping you mean "want to hire me to write a Chuck Klosterman-style column for some awesome nationally recognized magazine that pays $1 billion per year." Wait, I forgot, I'm anti-hope. My bad.

    (Thanks again, everyone, for the comments/feedback/insight/etc!)

  20. spot on. as much as i'd like to think DC could become cool, it won't. i think we peaked around 2002, before the douchies started moving in.

  21. I remember when Clinton was supposed to make us cool. Instead we got fat and he screwed our girlfriends.

  22. Someone has to write this stuff. I walk around the city, surf around the net and its like everywhere I go and everyone I see is not just drinking the cool-aid, but free basing it.

    This guy better be able to walk on water, because someday, the statute of limitations on blaming GWB is gonna be up and people are going to find out if the emperor is wearing clothes or not.

    I hope for everyone's sake, that he can, because if he can't, we're all in world of shit.

    Being a doubter of Obama should not make you a horrible person or even a person to be disliked. Everyone should question someone so popular, its almost unnatural how liked and revered this man is. I find it a bit scary how willingly the masses will follow him anywhere. Its not like we're talking about someone who has done much.

  23. "seems to be largely based on false hope, myth and probably a good deal of fois gras..."
    Hmm, so once again art reflects art.

  24. He must be cooler than we think


  25. so its been a while since i lived in dc, but when the hell did adams morgan become trendy? i swear all my friends who are in dc for the inaugaration are all like "going to this, and then hittin up adams morgan, woohoo!"

  26. Ummm, its been that way for like a decade. How long since you have been back?

  27. I live and work in DC and I am not cool. I am very uncool, and I will not improve with Obama or any other president.

  28. Incidentally, it's "foie" gras, not "fois" gras. Foie means liver, which is what it is. Fois means "time," as in "instance," e.g. "t'as dit plusieurs fois que Washington n'est pas cool," or "you said several times that Washington is not cool."

    And you're right, dammit!

  29. "because someday, the statute of limitations on blaming GWB is gonna be up"

    It will be up in 5555. Or when the earth blows up and no longer exists. Whichever comes first.

  30. My DC was cool before Obama and it will be cool after. It has not nor will it ever be NYC edgy cool but it will always be home and a place where my friends and I will always be able to find a spot to eat, drink, dance, see a play, or whatever else our little hearts desire.
    You are right about one thing. My federal job is nowhere near cool but a lot of my co-workers actually are. I guess I lucked out.

  31. Um so I missed this thread but now I see it and this was my article that I wrote for AFP, and I'm English, don't eat foie gras and work for the French-based wire, and I live in DC. The place ain't cool for many reasons and it is for a damn few. Pick em.