Let me be honest. I never meant to come to DC, let alone stay here.
I came here in the fall of 1995 as a college freshman. I had hoped to get into UVA’s architecture school, but I got into Catholic U’s program instead. I spent the last five years of the millennium in Northeast DC, rarely venturing outside of the typical college student haunts. Making the typical student mistakes; getting off at the GMU stop on the orange line when trying to go to a concert at the Patriot Center. Driving to the Southeast end of Pennsylvania Avenue at 11 at night because of shoddy directions. Going to Rumors. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
But I started to break out of my shell. I found The Bayou and the music scene. I ended up playing there four times before it shut down with one of my old bands. It was razed in 2000 and is now a Ritz Carlton. Ah, progress. Then came the new 9:30. And happiness ensued.
Architecture school showed me a lot of the city, as most of our projects used empty sites around town. This was when most of the NOMA Triangle was desolate, and XM Radio had just moved in. It was a blank canvas. Being able to work with the complexity of a grid city in the French Style was challenging and exciting at the same time. Where else do you have a city created by a Frenchman who was supposedly so frustrated with John Jay that he struck his name from the city grid (at least that was the story we heard in school)?
I took up the design editor position at OnTap magazine in about 2002 and that’s when I started to see everything that was going on in the city. Before that I didn’t know restaurants. I didn’t really know bars outside of where I went to see music (e.g. IOTA). I couldn’t tell you where things were or what was happening. I felt that I had been locked in a box for five years. Hello, gov’nor!
In 2005, I took over a creative team in Georgtown. I bought a place on New Jersey and Q. Me. Living in the hood? EASTERN SHAW. Maybe?! Crazy? No, it was awesome. A two year stint there before moving back to Virginia taught me a lot about being a true Washingtonian (not just reading about the top ten doctors you can’t afford).
I also worked on the PBS shows on the West Lawn of the Capitol for Memorial Day and the Fourth of July from 2002 until last year. I got to shoot photos from the top of the Washington Monument during the fireworks on the Fourth of July.
I’ve played in more bands than I can count (Juniper Lane, Honor by August, Boboroshi and Kynzand Rotoscope to name a few) and at many venues that have come and gone. The city has provided me with more opportunity than I could ever ask for.
I love the architecture.
I love free museums, though I don’t visit them often enough.
I love the music scene(s).
I love IOTA and the 9:30 Club.
I love that we have a really close airport because of lazy Congressmen.
I hate the traffic, but really, who doesn’t?
After 13 years, this is now my longest stint in any one place (the former champion being Yorktown, VA, where I grew up). This has become home, and it will always have a special place in my heart.
So welcome to WeLoveDC. We hope you stay a while.
– John Athayde / Kid A