October 11, 2004

Random Observations from Washington D.C.

As you know, the family and I spent the weekend down in the nation's capital. I have some random, disconnected (seemingly) observations from my stay there and I thought I might burden you all with them. So, in no particular order:

* There are a surprisingly large amount of homeless people inhabiting the streets around the White House.

* It is, architecturally, a humane city. The buildings are all low, the streets are wide. It does not make you feel closed in.

* As for those wide streets, whoever designed the street crossing system may have been on crack. There is ample time given to cross the smaller streets but the wider avenues require a good start out of the blocks when the light changes and a strong kick at the end in order to make it across the street safely.

* There is great irony to be found. While walking past the imposing headquarters of the AFL-CIO (I could not find a picture of it at their website, I wonder why), you notice the huge banner suspended from the front. It reads: "America Needs Good Jobs". It hangs over the nine off-street parking spaces in front of the building. Parked in those nine spots were: three Volvos; one Mercedes; 4 various Japanese cars; and, one lonely American pickup. I don't need to spell it out any further do I? I was so struck by this that even though I was a tiny bit late to get to the wedding, I stopped to count and then fix the numbers and makes of the cars in my mind for later.

* You can still smoke in bars and restaurants in D.C.? Are you kidding?

* It is a young place. A lot of kids right out of college are clearly trying to make their way. A lot of energy. And they all seem to run on the weekends. Some of them are very cute. Some are not.

* It is a one industry town. I had an argument with the bartender at the Hay Adams about this. The Yankees and Twins were playing on Friday night and we were in the bar for drinks. At one point, the sole tv suddenly stops showing the game. I move over to inquire, gently, and we had the following exchange:

Me: Excuse me. Is there a reason that the tv is no longer showing the game but instead is showing fat people holding up signs showing how much weight they've lost, not that that isn't commendable?

Him: This is Washington. We're going to show the debates.

Me: Sure, but even in Washington you have to admit that when the debate doesn't start until 9 and it is now 8:40 we could still probably have another 15 minutes or so of baseball, right?

Him: [grumpily changes channel back to game]

Me: [continue conversation with friends while casting glance over to game]

Him: [shouts across bar, stopping conversations] Hey, Yankee fan, we're going to change the tv now, since you ain't even watching!

Me: [shouts back] Not watching, huh? How about this, I can't see the tv at all and, let me think, top of the 3rd, 2 outs, Yankees up 3-1, runner on third, and a 2-1 count on the hitter. Am I right?

Him: [silence, of course I was right]

Me: Asshole. [And we leave, as my cousin compliments me on making friends wherever I go]

Posted by Random Penseur at October 11, 2004 10:04 AM

Sounds less like a one-industry town than a town full of @ssholes. Actually, I grew up there (at least partly), and if I'd stayed longer I would have turned into one myself.

Posted by: John Bruce at October 11, 2004 10:21 AM

Lovely place, though. I spent a few summers there visiting my grandparents when I was growing up.
There was a whole lot of poverty then and there's a whole lot of it now. The look of the homeless clash with the majestic govt buildings to a considerable degree. It's almost shameful.

Posted by: Mick at October 11, 2004 12:23 PM

I remember a friend who'd gone to college there telling me that DC had the same infant mortality rate as Port-au-Prince, Haiti. It sounds like poverty is alive and well in our nation's capital.

Posted by: GrammarQueen at October 11, 2004 04:02 PM

Hi RP,
well at the Hay Adams you are within spitting distance of the White House so I can't claim to be surprised at their preference. Of course if the Washington Senators ever get in the playoff they might jump on the baseball bandwagon but until then it is politics 24/7. Plenty of other spots around where you can catch a game but I guess the wedding was close by.
This town does live and die with the Skins though. Me, I'll take the Jets and lay the points.

Posted by: ivan at October 11, 2004 06:19 PM

They show the debates over baseball in a bar? Oh yeah. That's a real swing-your-pants kinda' fun place.

Posted by: Helen at October 12, 2004 03:20 AM

Is this the place? Appears to have a rather Napoleonic bordello air, suited to lobbyists and/or harpsichordists. (Of course there are strip joints in DC with similar decor. So I'm told.)

Next time you might try one of the Clyde's bars. Though one hopes this skewed set of priorities -- political chattering over baseball -- will be adjusted a bit throughout DC when the Nats make their return.

Posted by: Mark C N Sullivan at October 12, 2004 12:43 PM

Good for you!

Posted by: Amber at October 12, 2004 06:11 PM

Smoking: in Canada also it's banned in almost every city. However, in China, where I now live... I should feel LUCKY or HONOURED if a man decides to ask me if I "mind" if he lights up a cigarette in MY apartment... I quit smoking 4 months ago, it ain't easy around here!

Posted by: Philippe Roy at October 12, 2004 10:53 PM
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