February 22, 2003

District of Columbia

District of Columbia - "Justice to all"

Eve: "So Michelle Malkin wrote this rant about how my hometown reeks. (Link via Dave Tepper.) I find these columns (they recur at least once a year from a variety of pundits) both amusing and frustrating, because they refuse to distinguish between Washington-the-dateline and D.C.-the-hometown. So you had a rotten experience in the marbled halls of government, or amid the throngs of K St. lawyers. So what does that tell me about D.C.? It's as if I became a trader on Wall Street, snorted too much coke, tanked my marriage, and fled to become a schoolteacher in Westchester County--and then wrote about how "New York City" stinks.

In case Malkin ever comes back, here are my reasons to love this terrific little town. Everybody knows the downsides (racial resentment, crime, man-eating potholes, and, well, the government). But I bet you don't know about:

* The slow pace, neighborliness, and sense of place of a small town; the museums and film-noir night scenes of a big city.
* VictorianSecrets.net
* Go-go
* The way fog gathers in the little valleys
* The Capitol Hill Children's Museum
* York Castle (best ice cream ever), El Tamarindo, Thai Taste, and who could forget the history-drenched and greaserrific Ben's Chili Bowl?
* Edibles in the alleys between my house and elementary school: cherries, honeysuckle, mulberries, and pears
* Katherine Boo of the Washington Post
* Bill Gertz of the Washington Times
* An alt-weekly with less knee-jerk, reactionary Leftism and better reporting than any other I've seen. (And I've sampled the best of alt-weeklies from around the nation. Most are awful.) I pan bad City Paper cover stories because I care.
* Summer nights out at the Jefferson Memorial, drinking ice-cream sodas and watching fish leap in the Tidal Basin
* The stagy, implacable Capitol waiting at the end of every vista
* "SURRENDER DOROTHY" (if you lived here, you'd know)
* The Panda Sex Saga (a band name waiting to happen)
* The Style Invitational (and the Ear No One Reads--R.I.P.)
* The cherry blossoms in the spring, the Japanese maples in the fall; the china-doll dogwoods and the brooding Southern-Gothic magnolias
* The way the air gets soft and thick in August, like a caress. (Due to my switch to apartment living, this will be my first air-conditioned D.C. summer in years. It's not the heat I love--it's the humidity...)
* This is where I was a dumb punk rocker. I still love the music.
* Walking toward Confession in the lower level of the Basilica, hearing an African Mass on one side, an Indian Mass on the other, and a Latin Mass in the Crypt Church--all easily recognizable, all part of the catholic, Catholic faith.

I know other cities have great stuff and more of it. But it's good to love your home. And I love mine. No list could really capture it.

Posted by Solonor on February 22, 2003 12:30 PM

There ya go, Eve! D.C. representin'.

Posted by: Lester on March 1, 2003 05:19 PM

Yup. I spent the summer between junior and senior years in high school going into DC every weekend to wander through all the museums. Spring, when the Cherry Blossom Festival is held.

Posted by: Linkmeister on March 4, 2003 07:53 PM

Most of those museums still have free admission! (Last I checked.)

Posted by: Matt McIrvin on March 5, 2003 11:04 PM

As JFK put it:

"Southern efficiency and Northern charm."

Posted by: PJ Doland on March 10, 2003 08:49 PM

Oops! "Thai Taste" should be "Thai Chef." It's in Dupont, and mmmm is it good.

Posted by: Eve Tushnet on March 11, 2003 01:08 AM