MPD versus Parking Enforcement

I've been meaning to post this photoessay for a while. Sadly, the quality of my camera phone is poor. My apologies.

The events portrayed below happened on Friday May 22, 2009 between 8 PM and 9 PM

A few weeks ago I was having dinner at a local neighborhood establishment. I was enjoying the view of Columbia Road when I spotted a parking enforcement car parked outside the Radio Shack. I was a bit surprised to see Parking Enforcement out this late, but hey, it was a Friday night. Gotta make that revenue for the city. Good for them, I thought. I watched the Parking Enforcement officer get into her car. She pulled out into traffic and began to do a U-Turn in the middle of Columbia Road. At the same time, I saw a MPD cruiser heading Eastbound on Columbia. I thought, "I wouldn't do that U-Turn in front of a cop... but hey, I'm not Parking Enforcement. Maybe they'd let it slide."

Its in these moments that time seems to slow down a bit. As the Parking Enforcement car sped into the U-Turn, it became very clear she wasn't going to make it. She wasn't going to make it--and in fact, she was going to hit the police car. "Holy shit" I exclaimed, as other diners turned in time to hear the loud crunch. It was not a serious accident, but the idea of a Parking Enforcement colliding with a MPD car was just too much. As people began to figure out what happened, laughter erupted.

Immediately you could see the exhaustion and frustration of the police officer. I think I could hear his eyes rolling. There wasn't going to be a whole lot of professional courtesy extended to the Parking Enforcement officer. He gets out and talks to her for a bit. Then he calls for backup. At no time does either party move either of the vehicles. Of course, when regular people get into accidents, MPD will yell at you if you obstruct traffic (if there are no injuries and the cars are drivable). But hey, whatevs, this is going to be a shitstorm. Two DC owned vehicles have crashed into each other. There's going to be a lot of finger pointing. It's obvious to anyone with eyesight that the Parking Enforcement car is at fault, but of course this will all need to be documented. I joked that they would have the forensics unit show up.

After about 10 minutes, a sergeant shows up. He looks like he's about fifteen. He's got his gold badge and his Starbucks coffee. A few other police cars have shown up as well, mostly just to look and then they move on. People on the street stop to take photos. The sergeant and the officer head over to talk to the Parking officer. She's got her arms crossed and doesn't look like someone I'd want to mess with. I should also point out I've now seen several different attempts at making the "she was doing an illegal U-Turn" gesture using arm movements.

Some dude and his little girl are walking down Columbia Road, when he decides he really wants photos. So he tells the girl to stand by the light pole, and he goes out in traffic to take photos. He gets yelled at a few times for standing in front of cars, but he is undaunted. In the photo above (emphasis added to show him and his daughter) he has wandered into traffic again, nearly getting hit by an SUV. Immediately after I took this, he was yelled at again.

Asshole dad was not the only one--groups of hipsters and neighborhood folk have gathered, whipping out cell phone cameras.

They get pretty daring, even bending down on one knee to stabilize their shots. Impressive. Unlike in London or at Union Station, the police generally do not care. I saw only one other person get yelled at, and it was for obstructing traffic as well.

A bit later, a Parking Enforcement supervisor shows up. The photo is a bit blurry, but the Parking Enforcement supervisor drives right through an actual parking spot and parks halfway into a crosswalk. A small, non-serious accident now has several vehicles obstructing traffic. On more than one occasion there are near accidents, generally involving bicycles or pedestrians gawking at the accident. It's also difficult for any car to make a left turn onto Columbia Road, but they try anyways.

Never fear, though, because we've got some dude with a guitar who stops and plays for a while at the accident site.

Originally I was joking, however about 35 minutes into the whole situation, an MPD Forensics car shows up.

We obstruct traffic a bit longer to take photos from all angles, and take measurements.

About an hour after the whole incident began, another Parking Enforcement officer drives the wrecked car away, and the scene winds down. Mountains of paperwork ensue, I'm sure.

I don't know what I find most hilarious about the whole situation. That the city needed to deploy at least five cop cars over the course of the incident, or that people are such jackasses they almost get hit by the 42 bus so they can take a photo with their iPhone. Government bureaucracy and idiot spectators at their best.

In the end, it turns out that the Parking Enforcement officer was under the influence of Jumbo Slice pizza. While Councilmember Graham later denies it, this incident prompted the conflagration over banning pizza.


Coming Soon: Yet Another Reason To Hate D.C.

A lifelong republican, my Cuban friend Maria points to the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court as the "chickens coming home to roost."

She ridicules me for voting for democrats and socialists. "How could you vote for that gaurapo? He is a buchito!"

(I think I may have misheard the fast-talking New Yorker but that is what is sounded like.)

Metro Session

Arlington, Va.--In an effort to promote courtesy among citizens (and illegal aliens) riding the subway, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority published a video this month explaining the explicit (and implicit) rules of the road.

Reminiscent of the Sims online video world, the video implores riders to be more mindful of social norms as they ride to work and play, squished like chattel in cars filled to capacity during several hours of the weekday. Naturally, the PR release makes no mention of one of the most annoying (or pleasurable) aspect of riding the subway—frotteurism.

Some people think it’s funny (whereas others do not). Upon the lurching of the train one morning, I found myself quite inadvertently dry-humping the young lady standing directly in front of me—but was saved by the quick wit of an older black woman seated nearby.

“He’ll have to pay extra for that!”

But when it happened to me, it wasn’t so funny. On a not-so-crowded car one evening, I find an older woman—mid-fifties—beckoning to me to sit. Not wishing to discourage this act of kindness and courtesy, I sit down next to her, engrossed in my music and magazine. As she reads The Washington Post, slowly her left hand slips lower and lower, until it rests on my inner thigh.

I freeze. Like a bitch. A million thoughts running through my head. I let her molest me. I go home and take a shower. I cry.


If Trains Were Planes


Graham Declares War on Pizza, Rationality

From the realm of completely ridiculous, Councilmember Jim Graham is at it again. The story has been a bit off the radar with the holiday, but Graham wants a "crackdown" on Jumbo Slice pizza in Adams Morgan.
WASHINGTON - A proposed crackdown on single-slice pizza sales in Adams Morgan has many patrons of the nightlife hot spot perplexed, especially considering the area's other issues, including violent crime.

But Ward 1 D.C. Councilman Jim Graham, who represents Adams Morgan, says the pizza parlors selling single slices along 18th Street, some of which are open until 4:30 a.m., are part of the problem when it comes a recent rash of street fights, stabbings, muggings and even a shootout involving two plainclothes police officers.

Others have made the "slice out of crime" joke, and even offered a few alternate suggestions. While things such as shutting down traffic on 18th Street (to allow for drunks to stumble in the street, ala Mardi Gras) are all well and good, I think they also miss the point. Enhancing Adams Morgan's partylike atmosphere is completely the wrong approach.

Graham thinks that people loitering around after the bars close causes crime. He's probably right. I'd venture to guess if you didn't have 25,000 idiot asshole drunks stumbling around an area, you'd have a whole lot less crime. If you want to Grahamstand and make a point, why not just advocate for revoking all liquor licenses on 18th Street. As crazy as it sounds, it actually sounds less crazy than suggesting that pizza is causing problems.

I'm not sure about the legality of dictating whether or not a restaurant can sell pizza by the slice or not. I imagine that instead the pizza places would have their operating hours restricted. The only impact this would have on Adams Morgan would be a bit less littering and possibly moving the "vomit radius" a bit further out.

I hope Graham can also restrict the operations of McDonalds, as late night Dollar Menu items might also be causing crime. Also, it's quite possible that the smoking ban is also contributing to the violence. The ban causes more people to have to spill out on the streets to smoke the cigarettes, making sidewalks more crowded.

And since, you know, crime in Adams Morgan has nothing to do with the presence of gangs over by 17th/Champlain/Marie Reed, etc. It has nothing to do with muggers having tens of thousands of dumbass drunks carrying around piles of cash and iPhones. It has nothing to do with the fact that Adams Morgan is not, has never been, and will mostly never be a safe area. No, of course it's none of those things.

Generally when you propose an outrageous, impractical, attention grabbing law... it's to make a point. A point that makes sense, or at least gets people to think. This is just stupid. If the Council actually entertains this idea, this is exactly why there's no hope in the world for ever fixing anything in this city.


Memorial Day

Image: Thousands of members of "Rolling Thunder" joined the 22nd annual parade Friday in northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Arlington, Va.—The rumble of America’s warrior class shakes our capital city as thousands of veterans ride into town on motorcycles to observe Memorial Day, their leaders meeting with the president.

Downtown, middle-aged men and women—some with younger girlfriends and wives—park their Harley Davidson hogs in neat rows down the street, thronging bars and restaurants as longtime residents hit the beaches north and south. On Friday, veterans of foreign wars queue at the Pentagon for the 22nd annual “Rolling Thunder” motorcycle parade across Memorial Bridge into Washington, D.C., observing their fallen and wounded brethren.

Years ago on Memorial Day, I visited Arlington National Cemetery with a girlfriend to mourn her late grandfather, a native of East Rutherford, N.J., who’d served valiantly in the Pacific during World War II.

“He told me once he shot four Japs on an island. One was taking a piss.”

“God bless him,” I said.

“Course, that was ’87.”


Following are some of the veterans and their stories, in their own words.

Raymond, Helicopter Pilot

I served three tours in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot. I’d come in and lay down a layer of thick, black smoke to allow other pilots to land in the battle zone for troop extractions and to replenish supplies. I took lots of small arms fire but was never shot down.

Thomas, Public Affairs Officer and Golf Enthusiast

War is hell. There were two bunkers on either side of the hole on a par-five 14th. I had bogeyed and eagled on two holes previously but was suddenly overcome by a case of the nerves. I was stroking the ball well but just couldn’t take it to the hole. You talk about sand traps....

Donald, Infantryman and Closeted Homosexual

One of our bunk mates had a waitress every Saturday night—a different one. He was a big, strapping handsome guy. But three or four of us would stay behind and take showers together. We’d have a sentry standing outside to sound the alarm if the sergeant approached—then we’d act like nothing was going on. Some nights, I’d take two or three cocks at a time.

Reginald, Electrical Engineer and Blues Musician

Serving in Southeast Asia motivated me greatly to continue my blues career. Specifically, I was in love with Delta Blues. After I had my stroke, I met some guys at the VA who convinced me to get the band back together and I made some calls. What instrument do I play? My voice is my instrument. But there’s one thing you have to understand about me, son. I don’t sing the blues. I cry the blues.


Yeah, Hi There

OK folks, I know, I know it's been a while since we've updated. Blahblah we suck, "dead blog" so on and so forth. Whatever.

Sometimes looking for and writing about things you hate can be a bit shitty. Obviously there are plenty of hilariously terrible things going on in DC for me to hate on, but focusing on that all the time can be a bit draining. I've bookmarked countless stories and then sort of lost the motivation. Sorry, that's a "my bad."

So what have we missed lately? Well, just yesterday there was a quadruple shooting in the lovely Bloomingdale neighborhood. You know, that slice of heaven nestled between Shaw and the New York Avenue station. Lots of bloggers live in Bloomingdale, or BloMi, and have lots of love for Big Bear Cafe. I'm surprised I haven't seen more jokes involving "bears" and that coffeeshop. I'm opening that door, let's all walk through it.

Anyhow, yes, it's summertime now. That means more shootings. The police shot and killed someone over near Kalorama and Champlain, and there was a murder in Columbia Heights on 14th Street near Columbia Road. This all means it's also time for bloggers to step up and declare that "These things happen, a reminder that crime happens. Everyone should be careful but remember this doesn't mean we don't love our neighborhoods!!"

Yes, but hello, memo to everyone: DC is not a safe place. That home that sold at 14th and Fairmont for $499,999 was not a good deal. In all of these recent shootings, and Oh, I forgot about the murder outside the Mt. Vernon Square metro--the police have been close enough to hear the shots and respond immediately. Still no arrests in any of these homicides. I'm not about to criticize the officers on the scene, but clearly there is a failing at some level of administration here. Obviously. You don't need someone who rarely updates a blog to tell you that.

My speculation is that things are only going to get worse as summer drags on, with the economy still in the pisser, and gang rivalry flaring up. You can tell me that violent crime is down and all of that (and maybe it is), but we'll see how those statistics work out once it's August. I've lived here long enough (in the grand scheme of things, not very long) to know that we haven't done anything magical to put a lid on crime in DC. Anyone who thinks that Adams Morgan, Shaw, Bloomingdale, Petworth, Mt. Vernon Triangle, H St. NE, etc are safe are fooling themselves. Anyone who blogs about how these places are safe and have turned a corner and all of that are delusional. Someone really did pay almost half a million dollars for a house near 14th and Fairmont. Previously, the house had sold for something around $225,000 a few years ago, and $75,000 a decade ago.

Anyhow, enough about that. Just forget about the shootings, the helicopters flying around (with spotlight) and the sirens... and sit down with a nice juicy Five Guys burger filled with rat feces. Me worry about swine flu? I'm more worried the plague will find its way to Dupont Circle.


Out Of Office Reply

Like Vladimir Nabokov's classic literary character Pnin, this hapless writer is forever late to board the wrong train on the wrong day to the wrong city.

Arriving at the wrong airport yesterday, I managed nevertheless to escape our city for a week-long respite, so I'll be posting intermittently and checking my email less frequently than normal for a few days. An anonymous commentator connected to this site reminded me last night that I was "going down." I am certain that it was "fucking hilarious." Unfortunately, I have not yet had a chance to read the comments on the post below and, due to sheer volume (and some problems getting an intern), I cannot respond individually to hate mail at this time. If I'm "going down," it's going to have to wait until the beginning of next week at earliest.

The blog has been a bit quiet this week with me leaving town and Dave attending to some personal business. For her part, Marissa continues her efforts to become a surrogate mother (for a childless couple of burrows named Hector and Maria). I will post soon and look forward to working with all of you in what continues to be an extremely tough and challenging blogging environment.

Best Regards,


At Borders, There Is No Oral Sex

Image: As a surprise moderate, Justice Souter was also known for hating Washington.

Question: What do Malcolm Gladwell, George W. Bush and Justice David H. Souter all have in common?

Some months ago, a commentator here observed that an affinity for the work of Gladwell, a former science writer for The Washington Post, marks the mind of the pseudo-intellectual. Indeed, the best-selling author explains surprising and unseen patterns of the world in the wonderfully accessible style of Steven Levitt, whose Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (2005) also reached popularity among the moderately bright and unbearably pretentious. With aplomb, Levitt could explain the underlying mechanics of chaos theory to a retard. Gladwell could teach a monkey to drive.

Looking for some mind candy to read on spot, I peruse the bookstore this weekend to pass a rainy day without lacing my coffee with whiskey and making a tour of the Orange Line corridor Irish pubs. Ever so helpful, the salesgirls wish not only to sell and up-sell but to discuss. For one unattractive but enthusiastic young woman, there is no better way to digest Malcolm Gladwell than to listen to his prose in spoken-word form. If I could, I would pee on her. For one pretty young redhead, however, there is a right way and a wrong way to appreciate Malcolm Gladwell. Which of his earlier works do I appreciate the most?

The woman brushes her hair behind her ear and smiles in a way that cannot be misunderstood. Were I to buy two copies of Outliers: The Story of Success (2008)—one for me and one to donate to the public library—she would blow me. It’s been several years since I read The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference (2000) but Blink (2005) seems too likely an answer, the former mathematical and more theoretical and the latter practical and insightful, a window into our animal minds.

I blink. The Tipping Point proves to be the wrong answer and there would be no oral sex—which brings me to George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States. There was no president in recent history so much a product of intellectualism and East Coast privilege but also none that rebelled so much against the label, restyling himself as a moron from Texas with a proclivity for simple speech and a penchant for brush-clearing. The son of a one-term president and grandson of a U.S. senator, Bush mimicked his brother, himself a U.S. governor, to brand the Bush men as—if not outliers—the ultimate Washington outsiders, no denizens of the District, no products of privilege.

Bush hated Washington so much he spent entire months in office on vacation, working at the Crawford, Texas, ranch he referred to as the “Western White House”—which brings me now to Justice Souter, the 105th justice of the United States Supreme Court, a Yankee from New Hampshire who professed to have “the world’s best job in the world’s worst city.” As the Post reminds us, the surprise liberal on the court, nominated by the elder Bush, proved to be no liberal but a dying political phenomenon in this country—the moderate New England republican. He spent his summers haunting the White Mountains of his beloved home state.

The more perspicacious reader now wonders how Gladwell, Bush and Souter share a connection. We understand that things connect to other things in unseen patterns, the entire globe itself one system in a system of systems. We understand chaos theory, the idea that a butterfly flapping its wings in northern Virginia—within a deterministic system—causes a traffic accident in Southwest D.C. or a rape in Silver Spring, Md. But what do these three men all share in common?