Sorry State of Media, WTOPNews.com

Continuing in the series...

This week it's eyes on WTOP. WTOP dominates the airwaves as the primary newsradio station in the DC area. You'd be better off just listening to WAMU, but that's neither here nor there. WTOP owns newsradio in this town, and they also pretend to own the Internets. In fact, in case you missed it (which you can't miss, because it's plastered on every story), WTOP won "the coveted Edward R. Murrow Award for electronic journalism excellence for this website, WTOPnews.com."

Again, like with NBC4, we have a news organization with considerable resources available to cover local news. WTOP brags about their web coverage, to the extent of making everyone painfully aware of the fact that they won a "coveted award." Oh, WTOP, thou shalt not covet thy own awards. This is worse than when DCist wrote a post about their music editor being one of Northern Virginia's most eligible singles.

So, WTOP, since you have such amazing resources and spend, I don't know, all day covering local news, why can't you put some of that information on your site? Is it because you want me to listen to your radio station instead? That's a noble goal, but you've certainly got enough advertising on your web site that driving some more traffic to it wouldn't be such a bad thing. Why is it so hard for a highly esteemed local news source such as WTOP to even come close to say, the City Paper when it comes to coverage of local politics on the Internet?

What WTOP lacks in quality or correct spelling, it does make up for in hilarious comments. Take this gem from "dik" on a story on the Maryland Senate wanting to take guns away from domestic violence offenders.
Every divorce lawyer advises the "wronged woman" to immediately file a restraining order and claim abuse. This will quickly get out of control. Just another back door tactic to take firearms out of the hands of law abiding citizens. Do you really think only men are the cause of divorce? With the 'Bama in office, the Peoples Republic of Maryland will only become more socialist. Note: communist countries don't allow citizens to possess firearms. Can any of you sleep well at night?

This is generally the trend of comments, mostly from people out in the sticks who recently discovered that they could get satellite Internet in their bunkers. People like "The Original Joe S." who write things such as:
assault weapons are regulated by the firearms act of 1934. Again, you are spewing forth LIB-A-RAL horse shirt. You continue to bleat the control-freak mantra. We need the guns to kill the control freaks when it becomes too much to bear their horse shirt.
In earlier times in some places they used to apply a red-hot piece of iron to the tongue of the constant liar. Some traditions, sadly, have not survived.....

I wish we could get this guy to come over here and comment, really.

How difficult is it to maintain a web site that provides useful information gleaned by a staff of professional reporters. How hard is it to package a story for the web, and place it online? Why has the bar been set so low that WTOP's web site wins awards? Why can't you stream your station in a way that doesn't require a Microsoft download and an entire page with instructions on how to set it up? I know times are hard for news outlets, but there's no reason why WTOP, or NBC, or WJLA shouldn't be able to emerge as a leader on the web for news. Psst, DC media, this isn't 2001. Your web sites suck. You're getting beat by bloggers at your own game. This isn't just about hyper-local coverage. This is about the bread and butter of local news. Radio ain't going to live forever, I hate to say. Get with the game WTOP.

WTOPNews.com today can claim yet another award. I am bestowing upon their web site the WHY.I.HATE.DC Geraldo Rivera Award for Journalism. WTOP sets a new standard for poor web site usability, poor copy editing, and poor coverage of local news. Congratulations, I hope to see this award displayed right below the coveted Edward R. Murrow award. Good night, and good luck indeed.


Soup Kitchens Sound Awesome

Since I'm the only lady on the "staff" here at Why I Hate DC, I thought I'd talk a bit about the New York Times Style Section. While I would love to wax functionally retarded on how much I would like to see our elected officials trade in their Men's Warehouse get-ups for some of the space-themed outfits on this season's runways, we all know the topic of fashion is not one most of DC will ever understand. So, instead, the article I'll expound all-too-verbosely upon is this one, which focuses on the really original topic (NOT!) of how the Obamas are making this city as trendy a place to be as retro-futurism apparently is to wear (see previous link).

In modern times, said Michael Beschloss, a presidential historian, the notion of presidential engagement with Washington has typically meant "going to parties in Georgetown or making friends on Capitol Hill, in other words, engaging with the permanent political establishment here."

Oh Beschloss, you repetitive genius! Tell us more stuff we already know!

"This is really different," said Mr. Beschloss of the Obamas forays into casual restaurants and working-class neighborhoods."

OK, we get it. The President went to Ben's Chili Bowl once. That's fantastic. Maybe even cool.

As per usual, however, I'm exaggerating about just how pointless this article is, but that's mainly because of my limited literacy level. To help with this, I had my helper tortoise, Vladimir, explain to me the point of the article, which apparently wasn't simply to retread old territory about how cool Obama is (although Vladimir actually used the word "boss" instead of "cool"). Finally, after several hours of Vladimir tapping out Morse code on his shell by repeatedly running into the bottle of Shiraz we happened to be sharing, I realized the article had been trying to analyze what effect the Obamas' relatively active social schedule had on our President's public image. (Vladimir emphasized the word "trying," as the two sources the Times chose to interview on the subject were either staunch Democrats or strict Republicans, two sources that never make for interesting discussion.)

Dee Dee Myers, a former press secretary for President Clinton, said the outings allow Mr. Obama to project "an accessible glamour" and to convey a message of hope during bleak economic times. (She said that even the gregarious Clintons never got out this much.)

"It's very humanizing and very encouraging to people," Ms. Myers said. "And it's valuable for him politically."

Is it Ms. Myers? Really? Could your opinion perhaps be slightly skewed? Because I'm pretty sure a former press secretary for President Clinton would probably use those same words to describe President Obama had he decided to throw a bag full of flaming dog doo-doo at a bunch of disabled kids rather than eat a meal of food at Ben's Chili Bowl.

Speaking of biased, let's get the the other side of the story, and who better to ask than a former aide to President George W. Bush? Certainly, he'll say something fair and balanced!

"Every once in a while it's great, but there’s a chance of overexposing yourself socially," said Bradley A. Blakeman, a former aide to President George W. Bush. "People scratch their heads and say, 'Doesn’t the president have other things to do, especially in a crisis?'"

Well, hot damn. How unexpected! Democrats like Obama and Republicans hate him! Sometimes you feel like a nut! Sometimes you don't!

And while this article proved largely useless (although thanks to my helper tortoise, a little less useless than I originally thought), it wasn't a complete waste of time. Vladimir had to tap out Morse code to the very last paragraph, but what I heard left me with what I believe to be "thoughts" in my head. (It also left me quite amused, as my helper tortoise looked mighty silly ramming repeatedly into an empty bottle of wine.)

"Mrs. Obama and her staff also visited Miriam’s Kitchen, a soup kitchen, where the first lady bumped into Bill Richardson, a 46-year-old homeless man. Mr. Richardson was so stunned that he could barely stammer thank you as Mrs. Obama scooped a helping of mushroom risotto onto his plate this month.

"I was expecting some lunch, but this is the president's wife; this is her right here," said Mr. Richardson, who said he planned to get to a phone as soon as he could. "I'm going to be like, 'Mom, you’re never going to guess who I've seen.'"

First off, being unemployed and on my way to homelessness myself (unless Vladimir allows me to duck under his shell at night), I was slightly awestruck to find out soup kitchens in DC serve meals too complicated for me to understand. Mushroom risotto?! That sounds delicious. And it certainly beats my daily can of beans! At the same time, however, I'm left a little confused about Mr. Richardson's status as a "homeless man," because unless his mom is rolling strictly wireless, it would seem to me that she had a home to which he could call. Which means, in addition to telling her he just ate a gourmet soup kitchen meal served up to him by America's First Lady, could he maybe ask her if he could sleep on the couch for a few days?

Vladimir just informed me that I'm an ignorant asshole.


Drivers & Riders

Part III of a three-part reverse-chronological series.

Image: An animal more commonly seen in New York City, a Sikh taxi-cab driver from India or Pakistan poses for a photographer. In D.C., we have more Arabs drivers but also many from West Africa.


Dozens of area cab drivers urged the D.C. Council last week to rescind aspects of the law that last year changed the zone system to metered fares, arguing their profits had fallen by 30-40 percent.

Though the city won’t return to the Byzantine zone system, by which cab drivers assessed fares based on any number of considerations, including weather, baggage and personal temperament, the drivers made some fair points. The drivers argued at an oversight hearing of the D.C. Taxicab Commission that they should be allowed pick up multiple passengers per ride and to assess higher fares for longer distances.


After hailing a cab in Georgetown one night, I find myself trapped inside of a fast-moving box of steel and plastic that smells vaguely of musk.

As we speed down M Street, the Arab man turns to regard me. “Do you know the trouble with the world?” he says.

I do. It’s the Jews.


In Melbourne, the cabbies and livery drivers are mostly white—and they don’t blame the Jews, only the Arabs.

Indeed, Australia teems with working-class whites doing the most ridiculous jobs unseen in America. A beautiful young woman, a marketing or sales type here, a graduate of Sarah Lawrence, picks up cigarette butts with one of those long implements used to pick up cigarette butts. Nearby, another young woman—a pretty redhead I name “Sheila”—drives past on a forklift. She is smoking a cigarette.

As we drive at a steady (and slow) 100 kilometers-per-hour, the lanky Anglo man turns over his left shoulder to regard me.

“Do you know the problem with the world?"

I do. It’s the Arabs.


In my hotel suite, I turn on the television and there’s Ellen Degeneres, talking about Twittering. So I’ve never really spent much time overseas and there’s Ellen, telling a story about visiting the Parthenon and then tweeting about it, so I send a Twitter and someone in Canada says, “Hey, I’m watching Ellen Degeneres right now, too!” Except that’s a lie because of the time difference and it’s not even a live show anyway.

Ellen does not mention the Jews and Arabs. She dances.


In my two-state solution for the city’s hired car business, I propose modestly that we accede drivers their demands, as they work hard, 12-hour shifts, many of them, to provide the rest of us with a valued service.

Yet, they must give, too. In the solution, cab drivers may discuss only local politics, weather and sports, steering clear of the international realm. Thus, cab drivers may be permitted to discuss Jews only in the most pedestrian and neutral ways. For example:

“I understand Jews celebrate Festivus in October, as part of their 6,000-year cultural heritage.”

“Yes, I heard that, also. Very interesting.”

“You know, we Arabs and Jews have so much in common—except they have more nose hair, I think.”

“Sir, I’m going to have to report you.”

“What, what, what!? I’m just saying!”


In D.C., you better recognize a real cab driver, son.


This blogger does not have AIDS.

Tuesday's Quick Picks

Pictured: "Poor Planning", ca. 2005

INAUGURATION FAILURES DUE TO 'POOR PLANNING'. DCist points out a story about the failures at inauguration. The Washington Post article summarizes the executive summary of a report prepared for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. The rest of the report contains sensitive security information, you know, in case someone builds a time machine and attempts to attack the event.

What did they conclude? Well...
The summary recommended setting up a high-level committee to oversee planning and improve coordination for the next inauguration and opening the ticket gates earlier. It called for turning over responsibility for giving directions and prescreening ticket-holders to the congressional and presidential inaugural committees, which could provide volunteers or hire staff for such tasks.

Also, for the "next inauguration," the report suggests law enforcement monitor Twitter and Facebook for potential problems. YES CAN I PLEASE TWEET TO DC911 AND SAY OMGZ IM STUCK IN A TUNNEL! And of course, this is all irrelevant due to the fact that this event of epic historical proportions is unlikely to happen again.

Who would have guessed that an event attracting nearly 2 million people could be plagued by "poor planning." God even CNBC could have told you that, and they dropped the ball on everything else.

WASHINGTON POST TO DEDICATE MORE COVERAGE TO WEDDINGS. From the City Paper. The Post, former purveyors of quality journalism, are looking to expand their "sports page for women."
Style is seeking a reporter to help launch a new feature covering local weddings (a/k/a the Sports page for women). We’ve got some ideas on how this might work, but want to get a reporter involved from the beginning in conceiving this new part of our coverage. Of course, we want this feature to have a strong interactive component, so we’ll be asking anyone interested to write a memo outlining her or his ideas for both print and online. Our strong preference is to fill this position with an internal candidate.

It's actually painful to watch the Post slowly kill itself. For an organization surviving almost completely on their ownership of Kaplan test prep, I'm glad to see they are looking to do even more fluff pieces. Really, more wedding coverage? Between the "lets get drunk at the latest hip wine bar" Going Out Gurus to everything else that sucks about the Post, things are awesome! Until the NYT goes out of business, I guess that's one of the last vestiges of something even moderately resembling a news organization, and not yet another blog. That is, until William Safire starts writing a cupcake column.


No News Here, WMATA Still Incompetent

Pictured: WMATA's new "Series 7000" railcar.

So WMATA is back in the news today, for a few things. One, Metro released a whole bunch of mostly useless transit data after being petitioned to do so by some prickly bloggers. For those of you who haven't been following that whole thing, those go-getters over at Greater Greater Washington had been calling for WMATA to release their scheduling and location data to Google for use with Google Transit. Generally transit agencies give this information to Google so it can be incorporated on Google Maps and encourage people to use transit. WMATA wanted to get money from Google, and decided it wouldn't really be worth it to release the data for free. WMATA insists that their new web site is so totally awesome that no one would possibly want to use Google Maps instead.

Bloggers, being up in arms about this data wanting to be free, started a petition and eventually WMATA caved. They've released the data, but with enough legal restrictions that Google probably won't use it, and as of 10:30 Monday morning the web site didn't even work. In order to download the data, you agree to release WMATA from any and all liability for errors, and you also agree that while the data is free right now, WMATA can change that at any time and begin charging for it.

Whew. Glad I got all that one out. This was not a victory for bloggers, and I'll go out on a limb here and say this release of data isn't going to do much for anyone. Other than give those people over at GGW some "blog street cred." Hey, I like fantasy Metro maps as much as the next person. However, this isn't some outstanding victory. WMATA caved, but only to the degree that it's cooperation is for the most part, useless.

And in other news, as we all could have guessed, there are still horrible problems with oversight at Metro. Over at the Washington Post, Reports Question Metro's Finances.

In some cases, there were inadequate physical safeguards for cash and Farecards. For example, security cameras at two Metro sales offices remained broken for two years. Supervisors said they alerted sales office managers, but no action was taken. After sales office workers found cash and Farecards missing, requests for action were not acted upon or investigated, according to Inspector General Helen Lew.

Metro has also failed to track how federal funds are spent, the audit found. The agency has received about $2.2 billion in federal grants over the past 10 years, primarily from the Federal Transit Administration and the Department of Homeland Security. The funds are for capital projects, such as overhauling buses and rail cars, and they can be spent only for those specific purposes.

But in several instances, the inspector general found, the accounting was inaccurate. For example, Metro spent $46,000 to buy two police motorcycles with money for preventive rail maintenance. Metrobus managers spent $264,000 on 50 laptop computers under a line item for 40-foot hybrid electric buses. (The laptops were to be installed in supervisors' vehicles to help them track bus locations.)

Of course they don't keep track funds. Can't exactly ledger "operating prostitution ring out of station" or "spending time replying to annoying bloggers." Perhaps some of the stimulus package could be used to get WMATA on Twitter. Oh wait, they already are.


Marooned In The National Capital Region

Said to be “recession proof,” the national capital region tends to weather most recessions better than other parts of the country, no matter what “economist” Dave Stroup says.

Though unemployment rose to 9.3 percent in the District of Columbia, surrounding counties in Maryland and Virginia recorded unemployment rates of six percent, only marginally higher than the five percent or so considered to be “ideal” by many economists. Suburban employment rates, by the way, remain germane to our discussion, given that some 87.5 percent of the metropolitan area’s 4 million residents live outside of the “danger zone.”

Though employment may be relatively strong in the metropolitan area, the seat of federal government and home to the military-industrial complex, falling housing prices and the tight credit market have impacted some key aspects of our region, including demography. The Washington Post reports today that dramatic changes in domestic migratory patterns may be mostly attributed to the market.

“I looked at these numbers and said, ‘Wow!” William H. Frey, a Brookings Institution demographer, told the Washington Post, speaking in the conservative argot of his trade. “This is a more drastic change in U.S. migration patterns than we’ve seen in a long time, and I don’t think we’ve seen the end of it.”

At a happy hour at Bachelor’s Mill, a favorite haunt of demographers, Frey later said he’d nearly shit his pants when he saw the numbers.

Following similar trends in cities of the South and Southwest, the exodus to cheaper outer suburbs slowed with the housing market, with buyers everywhere remaining cautious. Arlington County gained 1,750 residents, with Fairfax County gaining 1.1 percent, according to the Post. Moreover, the poor housing market helped to slow the exodus from Prince George’s County, which shrank by only 0.5 percent compared to the previous year’s 0.8 percent.

So it seems that the economy has in fact devastated some local residents of the national capitol region. As the Post reports, “Although the District and other inner counties… continued to lose more U.S. residents than they attracted, the loss was substantially less than in previous years.”

Many of us, we are trapped.


The Sorry State of DC Media

Part of an ongoing series...

DC is a city full of media types. From freelance writers to professional talking heads, DC is stacked full of journalists. Think tanks, magazines, the Washington bureau of every outlet... there are probably as many journalists here as there are people who are HIV positive. But if you want to find some semblance of talent or professionalism, don't look to the local media outlets. They are all god awful terrible.

I realize this is true in most media markets, that the "local" television stations, and local newspapers do not attract the best talent. What is seemingly beyond all comprehension is just how terrible local news in Washington, D.C. is. You would think that outlets such as WTOP, WJLA-TV, WRC, so on and so forth could attract at least some young and upcoming talent. Sure, the local NBC outlet isn't the same as working for Brian Williams, but it's a start, right?

Let's focus on NBC for a minute here. While the newscasts themselves are of average quality, the station tries to bill itself as an Internet savvy group. They recently redesigned their web site (which is part of a nationwide NBC effort, I should note).

"Locals Only," cute.

Take this story, for example. It's called "Sign System To Differentiate Lincoln From Washington." It's written by resident funny man Jim Newell, who apparently also writes for Wonkette. This piece tries to be funny, and was actually the "top" local story Monday morning.

The story opens with:
Washington D.C. is a very confusing town, with its monuments. Sure, most students on field trips to the city would be able to name the Lincoln Memorial or the Washington Monument at first sight -- if their school is Harvard! For the rest of us unemployed, uneducated and barely literate slobs, however, we see the Washington Monument and can only wonder, "What is this 19th-century style obelisk?"

And displays the following photo:

Since the site is for "Locals Only" after all, we are supposed to understand that's not a horrible mistake, and is instead an attempt at a joke.

Add to this the "Cheney Discovers Cars, Technology" story, and it's like reading the Internet written by someone who just discovered the Onion existed.

Really, NBC?

Here's the real deal, your site is difficult to navigate. It's next to impossible to locate any actual news, and it's not funny. Has everyone just decided to give up on actually providing news? The only reason why anyone would visit the NBC site, or WJLA's site, or WTOP, or any other news site is to locate actual news. If you want silly commentary, you read blogs. News channels, listen up, you have resources to actually cover local news. You hire people to be "reporters" who are supposedly spending their days working on these things. Why not spend a little bit of time writing decent quality copy about the stories you cover. Maybe people would actually read your site then. The gimmicks are lame.

Less people are watching newscasts. More people are reading the Internet. Any person with basic reading and writing skills could summarize your top news stories and put them online, before the newscast even finishes. Maybe, just maybe, you could also run a spell check and make sure your headlines don't have any typos. Is it really that hard? Do you even pay your staff, or is it a bunch of volunteers from the local high school?

I challenge you, NBC Washington, give me a summary of your newscasts. Give it to me in text, on your web site, and easy to find. Tell me about the stories you are reporting on, right now. Tell me. Don't keep it a secret. Maybe I can't be at my TV for the newscast. Maybe I can't watch a video on my computer.

Don't even get me started on WTOP, you're next.



Image: Posters from a French AIDS awareness campaign. The CDC reports today that three percent of residents of Washington, D.C., have HIV-AIDS, a rate higher than Western Africa and equivalent to Uganda and parts of Kenya.

The generation gap widens like the fault line in the “Big One” when California goes seaward and now the mood seems spoiled.

Only 21, the young woman seems willing and unafraid. I met her four hours ago.

“What, do you have AIDS or something?” she asks, frowning as I unwrap a condom.

As many of us recall Ryan White amid the dawn of the age of HIV-AIDS, some in the younger generation see a reawakening of the sexual revolution interrupted briefly during the 1980s and ‘90s—before their time. Indeed, researchers in Berlin said in November that they’d apparently cured at least one patient, though that particular stem cell treatment remains wildly impractical for even insured patients in the developed world, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. As we approach an era of personalized medicine with individually sequenced genomes, researchers every week glean increasingly more knowledge about penetrating the cellular world.

But as the AIDS epidemic stabilizes for the rest of the developed world and new infections fall short of predictions in China and Russia, the District of Columbia faces an absolute pandemic with three percent of the population carrying the HIV virus. Health officials say that at least 15,120 residents carry the infection, though many remain unaware.

“Our rates are higher than West Africa,” says Shannon Hader, director of the District’s HIV/AIDS Administration, who once led CDC work in Zimbabwe. “They’re on par with Uganda and some parts of Kenya.”

Though the District receives direct federal funding (including $95 million in fiscal-year 2009) to fight the pandemic, David Catania (Independent, At-Large), chairman of the D.C. Council’s health committee, told the Washington Post that previous mayors (and crackheads) had until a few years ago not considered deadly infectious disease to be a priority for the city.

"Frankly, there can be no excuse for the state of the HIV/AIDS Administration that I found in 2005," Catania says. "I cannot speak to why it was not a priority previously. For years prior to 2005, mayors and previous individuals allowed things to exist in an unacceptable way--and I do blame this government for part of the epidemic we're confronting."

Some of you may ask, "How is this relevant to us?" Apropos of what, M@? Well, I’m just saying: Sleeping with any random resident of the District is akin to sleeping with any “random” in Uganda and some parts of Kenya. Just saying. Three percent of y’all have HIV. And, actually, you don’t know who you are.


Why pay people when others will (gladly) do it for free?

DC's unemployment rate is now at 9.3%, showing that we are not at all 'recession proof.' In fact, there are a lot of reasons why you will totally be screwed in Depression 2.0. Thanks to things like "interns" and the "Internet," many jobs can be replaced with free and willing slave labor!

Take for example, The Washingtonian. Word has it that they will be laying off eleven staffers (shhhhh, including some higher ups!). This is in the midst of their "Design the Cover of the Washingtonian's May Issue" contest. I have to wonder if the soon-to-be-laid-off staffers are eligible to enter. Will they have to report any winnings as income? Oh wait, this contest doesn't even have a prize. I can see it now, "The winner of the cover design contest is the former cover designer."

But hey, let's step it up a notch. How else can we save some money around town? Interns are the best solution for pretty much everything. They work hard and are cluelessly naive and optimistic--much like most bloggers. Need to save the Washington Post? How about you just truck in a whole ton of new interns, and set them up as the new monkeys at the typewriters. Come on, would there really be that much of a decline in quality? How about we just make the entire Metro section a series of "Date Labs." Why not!

Also, WMATA is hurting. I've got an idea, fire the administrators and replace them with the staff and commenters at Greater Greater Washington. And by replace, I mean have them work for free. Since they already do freely provide fantasy transit policy, why not just let them make real policy. I can't possibly see a problem with that.

Wow, I'm on a roll here. Look at how much money I've saved, just with interns and bloggers. Think about how much money the city could save if we didn't pay the DC Council some $90,000 each per year. Instead, lets elect bloggers, who obviously know everything about their neighborhoods, and would work for free. I bet we could even find bloggers who would do all sorts of things for free, such as writing parking tickets and building dog parks.

Think about it, DC. For every paid office job in this city, there are probably 10-20 college students who would be willing to move to DC and do your job, for free! Hell, some of them would probably even PAY to do your job. Be afraid, be very afraid.

whoops, i'm back

OK, I get it. "ZOMG this site is so dead ZZzzzzzzZZZ." If it's so dead, then you can all stop commenting, and you can all go away. K?

Sorry, I had to run out of town on no notice, and while I was out of town, I became violently ill.

I'm behind on the news. What's pissing you off this week?



The animals scatter as the cloud of noise and machine darkens the sky. Everyone runs and no one makes sense, heels clacking the sidewalks and phones ringing, unanswered, throughout the city.

In this dream, my escape from Washington, D.C., comprises two stages as I cross the Potomac by kayak to reassemble on the other side my bicycle, which I power along 14th Street alongside other evacuees. Only then with highways jammed would I leave the comfort and convenience of my beloved automobile, the symbol of my freedom, the reality of my confinement.

Only then after the president kills the F-22, with the enemy in the sky, would I join the ranks of the pompous and pretentious, those who make their daily commute by bicycle, dressed as Levi Leipheimer in the third stage of the Tour of California. Only then would I seek brotherhood and comradery with those wearing the yellow jersey, commuters with sponsorships—worth multiple millions of euros—advertising the Spain-based telecommunication concern. Only then would I eschew my pirate costume and Lone Ranger cape for the tight shorts and matching jersey of the cycling commuter and the Weekend Warrior—only then.

Not too long ago, a commentator here calls the cycling community one of the last bastions of civility in our city, making me wonder:

Was he referring to the cyclist who punches a cab driver one day in Adams Morgan? Or was he referring to the cyclist racing behind a car along Florida Avenue, screaming to the city: “I’m going to kill you, you fucking piece of shit!” Or, rather, was he referring to the cyclist who runs red lights, only to harass the jaywalker for his crime against nature.

I’m not sure. You assholes tell me.



Like many controversial writers, I receive death threats on a regular basis.

In fact, the local Muslim community just this week issued a fatwa against me, which my attorney says is some kind of legal ruling but don’t worry too much because it’s really hard for them to collect damages.

Regardless, I’ve decided to flee the country tomorrow and write on the lam. Actually, I’m leaving for an overseas business trip but I’ll holler at you from “Down Under.” G’day, mates.



How could one Chandra be so Levy?—Eminem

Hippie transplant scum of a certain age may recall the media singularity that opened in Adams Morgan nearly eight years ago following the disappearance of a Washington intern.

Indeed, the impending arrest of an illegal alien for the murder of Chandra Levy brings more closure to my time here in the national capital region. Authorities plan to indict Ingmar Guandique, a 27 year-old currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for attacking two other women. As we know, the murder of the 24 year-old intern with big hair destroyed the political career of the married California congressman with whom she’d been romantically linked—and, for months, Gary Condit remained the metropolitan police department’s prime suspect.

On a late morning that spring, I approach my bus stop near 18th Street in the neighborhood. There is no Starbucks on the corner. Only a black man with no shirt, covered in dust.

“Hello, Caucasian!”

One beat.

“Good morning, Negro!”

No Starbucks on the corner, only a black man with no shirt covered in dust—and it’s suddenly quiet. No reporters. The satellite trucks withdraw from the sky, like flowers wilting in the sun. And I see a weasel—or a man—emerge from the brick building on the corner, looking askance as he darts toward a waiting SUV, an assistant standing to the side.

But the weasel, the man, stops and stares as I approach the corner. He squares his shoulders, his countenance ashen with disgust, burning with defiance.

It’s eight years ago and in my pocket I have no money and no camera phone but I raise my hand and give all that I have. I give him the finger.

Contributor's Note: Thanks to my new intern for the copy-editing advice.


OMGZ! Another new restaurant on 14th St, NW

And now, this site will see a 122% increase in traffic. As best as I can tell from a quick Googly search, this is a WIHDC exclusive, thus far.

OMGZ! 14th Street will be getting another new restaurant. Perhaps. No, we're not talking about Blu Lounge & Grill where the old bodega used to be. There's now an ABRA license application notice posted in the space between Vastu and City Paws. The new restaurant will be called Masa 14, and will feature Mediterranean and Asian fusion tapas and cocktails. That's a mouthful.

Two new restaurants/bars on 14th Street between S and T. Meanwhile, it appears that both Bar Pilar and Cafe St. Ex want to switch from restaurant licenses to tavern licenses.

Anyone want to take bets on the following?

1. How long will these two new restaurants last? and
2. How many yuppie bloggers will gush about these?

Oh and just what the hell is Mediterranean and Asian fusion tapas? It's like all the restaurants on 14th Street had an orgy and then their abortion was turned into a new restaurant.

I used to work on that strip of 14th, and while there is a lot of foot traffic, and a lot of people going to Black Cat, these seems a bit excessive. But whatever, let's open more restaurants--unemployed bloggers need somewhere to hang out.



One of the great redeeming qualities of the Washington Post would be its ombudsman, whose job consists solely of critiquing the work of his colleagues and the newspaper as a whole.

One imagines himself ombudsman at work and quickly sees the power in his weekly reports to the director, chief, vice president or assistant shift manager—whomever his supervisor at work. Presumably, his missives go uncolored by personal bias, his mission to discern bias and prejudice within a product fashioned by others.

Last year, the Post ombudsman made meticulous study of the “institution’s” coverage of the major two-party candidates in the U.S. presidential election, poring through reams of news stories and insipid editorials to scientifically conclude that, indeed, in words and pictures, the newspaper had very much favored the democrat over the republican. Though quite reasonable a bias given the colossal collapse of Lehman Brothers and the rest of Wall Street on republican watch, the newspaper resolved in late December to raise “transparency” to a much higher level in the ethos of its brand of journalism—which was wonderful.

Now, we ask the Post to stop making ethnographical study of certain slices of youth in the national capital region, particularly the anomaly known as the “young conservative,” a free-ranging population the newspaper regards with the detached and subjective—but ever so curious—perspective of the Anglo studying the Savage.

Like Virgil, Ian Shapira of the Post last week guides us down to Hades and into the first circle of hell—happy hour in early February at the Union Pub on Capitol Hill. The place is “jammed with an unlikely slice of young Washington strivers: conservatives, libertarians, free-market/small-government types, anyone right of center,” Shapira writes. “People, in other words, in their 20s or early 30s who actually groan at the label Generation Obama.”

With this introduction, the journalist in the first canto takes us beyond the foyer to introduce some of the inhabitants of this hellish environment, quoting a 22 year-old intern at the Heritage Foundation who confesses to his peers “feelings of alienation.” As Virgil explains, many of the young conservatives hesitate to provide last names and workplaces, fearful of retaliation for resisting the tide.

"'I just say that I work at a nonprofit,’ says Margaret Taylor, 24, who won’t say for publication which organization she works for, other than that it’s economically oriented.’"

Another young conservative, 24 year-old Dustin Siggins, describes to our guide—the ethnographer—the foibles and failures of his efforts to mate with another of his kind.

“I met a girl today at the gym from Boston College [who] was getting a law degree from George Washington [University],” he says. “She was cute but she wants to work for the ACLU and I said, ‘Oh, you’re one of those.’”

Within the context, we imagine the mating ritual of the young conservative in a crowded barroom as described by Virgil: Males and females buy one another $5 drinks named for Ronald Reagan as Fox News flickers on the monitors to a soundtrack of Dave Matthews. We watch as the male and female exchange paper copies of their resumes in a ritual unbeknownst to the rest of white America.

Many of us along for the journey recognize the conceits of the ethnographer, as voyeurs accustomed to exploring the world of the “striving” African American or the colorful streets of the “vibrant” Latino immigrant community—but, with this reversal, the story jars us to consciousness.

Later, in the second canto, we flash forward to a telephone interview Virgil conducts with yet another young conservative—and there is hope! Two young conservatives, out of work with the new administration, begin clicking and clacking to the continual chiming of IM: they are doing what any such animal would do in similar environs. They are starting a conservative Web site.

Mayor Adrian Flinty

We should be more like Flint, Michigan

So we sure did get flinty yesterday. Worst snowstorm since 2003, and for once the federal government didn't close down. Goddamn. I mean, I know I voted for Obama and everything, but I'm getting a bit tired of the 'stern parent' attitude. Gotta get flinty! Can't close the government for snow.

I would have posted more about the snowstorm, but I wasn't even in DC this weekend, and instead was headed back into the city just as the snowstorm began.

From what I gather, the basic gist of the reactions are as follows:

1. Native DCers cannot handle snow. It is a source of pride to freak out at the slightest amount of snow, and to forget all of your driving skills.
2. Transplants, especially those from the North or Great Lakes Region are accustomed to snow. Anyone who says we should handle our snow better is most likely a transplant.

President Barack Obama, being a hip, wannabe urban transplant hailing from Hawaii via Chicago, therefore thinks we should man up about the snow. Given the fact that he was not even a United States Senator the last time it snowed this much, he doesn't realize that it doesn't make sense for us to be "good" at snow, when this amount of snow happens about once a decade.

I realize that I, myself, am a transplant from the Midwest. And I was pissed the federal government didn't close. Forget being flinty, I want my day off.


To The Loyal Commentators

My role here is to make sure you assholes don't take yourselves too seriously and... it is an uphill battle, let me tell you.

Speaking Of The District Of Columbia....

The above image illustrates my philosophy on the complex relationship among our “tri-state” area jurisdictions. The drunken Virginia resident sits atop a District toilet while reaching for a roll (out of frame) of Maryland-brand toilet paper. More content to follow later today as we're working with a two-hour weather delay.