Thursday, October 23, 2003

D.C. writer Clay Risen sums up what's seemed weird about D.C. to me since I first stepped off the boat.
Here's the teaser:
Urban character is easy – Chicago has architecture, New York has culture, Los Angeles has a six-hour flight to New York – but what about cities with zero personality? Let’s say, Washington?

I've written before about the oddity of living in a city with no palpable sense of home-grown culture. Risen captures some of the other peculiarites of the city, including: ID Chic ("Washington is probably the only place outside of a corporate-suburbs Appleby’s where office IDs aren’t just acceptable, but chic. ...Here, pickup lines like, ‘dump the assistant to the deputy undersecretary and get with the assistant deputy undersecretary,’ actually work."), Interns ("Virtually everyone in the city started as an intern, but it doesn’t stop people from wanting to kill them. Or sleep with them."), and one I hadn't heard of, "Slug Lines" (‘Slugs’ are commuters who, unwilling to drive or take the train, essentially hitch-hike their way into the District; single drivers pick them up in order to take advantage of the HOV lanes.)

DC has grown on me exponentially over the last year, and the gorgeous autumns don't hurt, but all this talk I've heard about how "people come to DC and never leave" is just crap. They aren't staying because of the subtle charms of Beltway traffic, people! They stay because they work for the Federal Government or some parasite thereof.


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