DC: We Are More Than What Others Say We Are

Fire and Ice
‘Fire and Ice’
courtesy of ‘bhrome’

To the Tea Party tourists visiting this weekend:

We’d like to welcome you to the nation’s capital.

Please note that despite some serious misunderstanding and outrageous assumptions made beyond the Beltway, DC really is a safe city to visit. We do recommend, however, that you just avoid Baltimore completely. Think of it as our certifiably insane sibling to the north, with delusions of class. (And yes, I am kidding. We DCites do have a sense of humor, especially at Baltimore’s expense. And Philadelphia’s.)

Despite some ramblings of various cantankerous individuals, the District does have a lot to offer you on your visit. We bust a lot of myths about our fair city here on this site; please take a moment to see if we’ve answered any of the ones you’ve heard. We also showcase a lot of amazing arts, theater, restaurants, individuals, and other great things about the DC area here; I invite you to check out what else lies beyond the Mall and maybe sample some of our wares.

Photo courtesy of
‘Thumbs Up for At Attention’
courtesy of ‘Karon’

Does DC have issues? Yes – but then again, so does every other city around the globe. However, many cannot claim to be the most photogenic, or the most picturesque, or one of the best caretakers of a national heritage. Washington, DC can make a very strong claim for any of these titles. You’d agree, if you took the chance to explore what we have to offer, and not avoid sections of our fair area on the advice of those who don’t live here or seem to care about DC.

I know we’ve gotten a bad rap in decades past, but we’re over it. We’re a multicultural melting pot, a crossroads of ethnicities, creeds, religions, ideologies, philosophies, and politics. Sure, we may vote a certain way on some issues, we may stand on the right and walk on the left on our escalators, and we do have our share of shameful public figures – but again, so does every city and every town in this great country. We are not an island unto ourselves, but more a cross-sectional look at what is America.

Photo courtesy of
‘Eleanor Holmes Norton and Nigel Lythgoe’
courtesy of ‘kimberlyfaye’

It saddens many of us locals that we’re painted so broadly with the political brush. It’s a stereotype we can all do without, but is perpetuated by those who refuse to really look and experience the fullness of the District. We are who we are and if you’d stop to ask us, you’d find that out. We love our city passionately, much as you may love a sports team, or your alma mater, or your own neck of the woods. And as much as your hackles are raised when someone disparages your own, so much more us. We feel we must constantly defend ourselves, even though we don’t have representative rights. And that constant vigilance against those who besmirch our character makes us cranky, irritable, and flippant. Is it right? Probably not. But then, is it right for others to so blatantly blanket us with bad stereotypes and third-hand outdated references and comparisons?

We’re the epicenter of the United States. It comes with being the capital, and we know that. We accept it. We thrive in it. Our city’s culture remains as diverse as our people; something that you will find evident when you arrive, no matter what Metro line you ride.

Photo courtesy of
‘wait until the train stops’
courtesy of ‘philliefan99’

So please understand – we do want you here. We want you to shop our shops, eat our food, enjoy our venues. We want you to experience DC for what we are, so when you return home, you arrive with a greater capacity to understand, enjoy, and celebrate the District for what it is, not what it’s rumored to be. This is, after all, your capital, too. What we don’t want, however, is rudeness, intolerance, and self-righteousness, so we ask that you simply leave those at home with the bottles of shampoo and the nail clippers. Come with open eyes, and we’ll embrace you with open arms. Come with blinders on, and prepare to face our stubborn cantankerousness, for it is mighty.

If you can’t do that…well, it’s your loss, not ours. We’ll keep taking care of the place for you, until you finally decide to truly come home to Washington, DC.

Having lived in the DC area for ten years, Ben still loves to wander the city with his wife, shooting lots of photos and exploring all the latest exhibits and galleries. A certified hockey fanatic, he spends some time debating the Washington Capitals club with friends – but everyone knows of his three decade love affair with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

A professional writer, gamer, photographer, and Lego enthusiast, Ben remains captivated by DC and doesn’t plan on leaving any time soon.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Flickr 

32 thoughts on “DC: We Are More Than What Others Say We Are

  1. Spot on!

    It is also worth noting, that while many of us may live outside the L’Enfant City, in the suburbs or on the less desireable metro lines, and may not on average vote the same way as most teabaggers, Just like they we are hard working Americans many of whom work for contractors, the military, the government, or in many other roles to help keep this great nation going. The mall, Capitol, monuments and White House may be the symbols of our country, but it is us who live in this area, as well as tens of thousands of people around the nation with all sorts of backgrounds and views that make this crazy American experiment work. I think that some of the guidelines suggested by the teabaggers were not meant to disparage, and in some ways are not bad advice, but whether intentionally or not, they paint DC and its environs as a cesspool of crime and moral decay and a place that is only notable for its 200 year old buildings and its symbolism, not a microcosm of America, a city on the rise, a cultural center, a proud home to hundreds of thousands of patriotic Americans from all walks of life from the bottom to the top. And to truly see the city in all of its glory, you need to step on the green line or cross the Anacostia from time to time.

  2. Great write-up about how diverse and wonderful DC is.

    However, I, for one sort of hope the Tea Partiers abide by those racist “guides”. The nice by-product of them is that they keep those racist, ignorant folk away from the places I go and the neighborhood where I live.

  3. I visited DC in 1963 during our high school senior trip. When I visited again just a few years ago, I walked in some of those same steps – To me, it is MY town. The only real thing I wanted to see was THE DOCUMENTS. I saw many other great things as well, but THE DOCUMENTS was most important to me – and still is.

  4. Why the special post towards the Tea Party people?

    I don’t particularly care for the Tea Party one way or another but I do find it odd that the party of “tolerance” can not tolerate the tea party members.

  5. Before I moved to DC, I had no idea what living in this town was really like. The longer I have lived here, the more I find it to be an amazing place. To me, there is no where else I would rather be at this point in time.

  6. DC is a great place to live Geb, and it can be enjoyed inspite of people like Apa and Tom Bridge, above. It is a diverse town with people from all walks of life, but painfully provincial and close-minded.

  7. thanks John,

    Now I get it, I wasn’t in on the loop. I was born here so in 1988 I could see that experience having an impact on someone from Maine, and I do know someone who was shot in SE simply because the shooter wanted to be in a gang. The city has gotten a lot better since then. Why the writer brought up immigrants is beyond me; naive and close minded for sure.

    I don’t know any Tea Party people but I am sympathetic to idea of less taxes and less government in our lives. I sure the event will come and pass just like the others and we wont even notice they were here.

  8. Bless you for this. I’m a native Washingtonian—born in the District and living in Silver Spring—and it’s very important to me that outsiders know that there is so much more to this city and area than just the Federal Government and the monuments.

  9. @Julio:

    Nope, sorry. Not closed-minded. Just anti-bigot. Corporate-sponsored Glenn Beck and FreedomWorks’ fake “grassroots movement” can come to DC to try and defame Martin Luther King Jr.’s great speech (which they won’t, because MLK will be remembered and Glenn Beck won’t). But the last thing I want to see is a group of them with their incoherent and/or misspelled signage hanging around my neighborhood, a place I consider open, diverse and tolerant of all colors/creeds/orientations, which the Tea Party and its ilk are not. DC may suffer them for a weekend, but DC is better than they are in every way.

  10. okay – your note was very angry and – ‘close-minded, bigoted.’ Just can’t put what you said in your first line with the rest of the message. Let’s wait until after the weekend is over and see which way this flies. Take a deep breath a relax. Obviously, you preconceived notions are drowning you right now – chill.

  11. Pingback: Anonymous

  12. For the past two days, I have been attacked on line and on TV as a racist for writing a guide for tea partiers coming to this week’s Glenn Beck rally (or other marches on DC) at my heretofore almost unknown blog “Tea Parties — One Lump or Two?” (www.teapartiers.blogspot.com). I am a racist because I advised people to avoid whole sections of our collapsing and dangerous subway system (Metro) unless they took a local like me with them.

    What’s really funny is the complete journalistic incompetence this has shown. It’s like I (and my linked Maine tea partier blogger Andrew Ian Dodge) set a booby trap for MSNBC and the Leftover blogosphere. I have long been of the opinion, even before the Journ0Lists story broke, that other than the Drudge Report and the National Enquirer, many journalists are nothing more than flaks for the political class, covering up their failed stimulus programs, and their exercise of seignorial rights to interns, masseurs, and campaign staffers. This week confirms that for me.

    First the Huffington Post and Rachel Maddow erroneously inform everyone that my guide was
    written by someone in deepest, whitest rural Maine, when I have lived in DC since 1980 (and before that lived for years in Obama’s old south side neighborhood in Chicago).

    Then Maddow comes up with a map of where I told tourists where it would be safe to go on their own, that consist of a teeny area of the Mall, downtown, and West End. When I clearly said all of the red line in Montgomery County and NW DC and everything west of 14th Street (which includes the historically African American neighborhoods of Crestwood, Shepherd’s Park, Colonial Village, and 16th Street Heights). One wonders how many Oxford dons one has to blow to get a PhD when one cannot read?

    (In Maddow’s defense I believe she was depending on the accuracy of blogs called “Little Green Footballs” by some coward named Charles Johnson, who has blocked my ability to reply to his innaccuracies on his blog, and something called DCist.com produced by people in Manhattan who claim to know about DC, even though they don’t know any of the geography I just mentioned above.)

    Then the Leftover lemmings from the Huffington Post on called me a bigot who was telling people to avoid gays and racial minorities. When I am openly gay and have dated someone from every race and ethnic group on earth, with the exception of Chechnyans, Aleuts, and Eskimos (and I am currently single so if you are reasonably attractive, a good conversationalist, and are in those groups feel free to give a call).

    Next a purportedly award winning journalist named Andrea Stone at AOLNews wrote a (slightly more balanced) piece wherein she claims to have tried to reach me repeatedly. No calls, no messages, no emails from her. When I check, just out of curiosity, Andrea and I have 8 FaceBook friends in common. And my phone number is listed. The leftoid Talking Points Memo (which wrote its own Journ-0-Lisp reproduction of the HuffPo stock piece), WMAL radio, David Weigel from Slate. and local WUSA Channel 9 and a local FOX affiliate all managed to call my listed number. Woodward and Bernstein move over — Andrea Stone is on the beat!

    Then MSNBC, which is infamous for having NO African American hosts or co-hosts, employs mush mouthed hack Eugene Robinson on the Maddow show, and that more honest and respectable African American guy who appears on the McLaughlin Group (his name escapes me) to chortle on about how my guide would prevent visiting tea partiers from eating at Ben’s Chili Bowl (didn’t Michelle Obama say not to eat that stuff?) at 13th and U Streets. Apparently the almost all white MSNBC network needed black faces to give them some street cred on DC neighborhoods. Now we know that Chris Matthews travels far and wide to find lesbians to molest, sometimes all the way to Burbank, but I suspect I have been out dining and dancing in the New U way more than he has — and more than Robinson or the other guy. And, as a pseudo-journalists and pretend DC citizens, they seem unaware that the New U clubs had stabbings and shootings that led openly gay left-liberal Democratic city council member Jim Graham to consider shutting them down (http://dcist.com/2007/06/29/another_shootin.php). I guess Jim Graham has been a Manchurian candidate all this time, a secret raving right wing member of the tea party. Welcome aboard Jim! Cosmos at 5:00 at JR’s? So it is moral and thoughtful to tell tourists to go to this neighborhood at night and to smear me as a racist for telling them not to do so. Right Chris! It seems that that tingling synapse in your leg is the only part of your central nervous system that is still alive.

    What this whole megillah shows us about the Leftovers is what we knew from the first time high school drop out Janeane Garofalo pronounced on the psychology of tea partiers: the left is intellectually bankrupt. Obama is flailing — at this point his best strategy would be to campaign FOR GOP candidates. Boxer, Reid et al will soon have to become lobbyists or beg Obama for ambassadorships to support their tax predator ruling elite lifestyles. All the Keynesian hogwash their PR flaks spew is rejected by a growing majority of voters (even if in their own little caves at HuffPo and Salon the inmates think “Mises” is the plural of “mice”). They have nothing left but seizing on anything they can and scream racism. The one tool in their box, and it no longer works. They have already lost this election. What new form of scapegoating and demonization will the invent for the next one?

  13. Bruce, cutting and pasting the same off-topic, name-calling, ungrammatical nonsense into multiple blog comments is called “spam.” I advise you to cut it out or further comments will be handled the same way we handle other spammers.

  14. Oh yes, show the visitors how you are. Call them names and then tell them to shut up and not complain.

    Do you two by any chance work for the feds?

    You have veyz of makink zemm obey!

  15. Bruce, your comments here have not been touched except to redact one particularly loathsome bit of misogyny. We only ask that you keep your comments on-topic and not haphazardly cut and pasted from any of the countless other windmills you’re currently tilting at. If you have a problem with being called a troll, don’t behave like one. If you insist on continuing to behave that way, then I invite you continue it at your own blog, because you won’t be doing it at mine.

  16. Bruce, I think many of us who live in DC reacted to your post, which as it went viral on a Maine blog seemed to be written by an outsider, as an attack on us and the city we love and a reinforcement of all the bad stereotypes that keep tourists from seeing the real city. OK, so maybe you really do live in the city, and maybe some people did over react, but instead of using this as an opportunity to attack the main stream media and the Obama administration, and in the process reinforcing everyones preconceived notions of you, why not have a discussion on whether or not such guides are constructive to newcomers to the city, whether previously or stereotypically ‘Bad’ neighborhoods are getting better, and whether people from the heartland making a perhaps once in a lifetime trek to their nations Capitol can gain something by seeing the city outside of the monuments.

  17. It’s a shame to see the comments on this lovely post deteriorate into talk radio-caliber name-calling.

    I think it’s fair to say that this is a wonderful city, and I know I feel lucky to live here. It’s also fair to say that yes, folks coming to town for a rally probably don’t have much cause to ride the Green or Yellow lines, except to get to their hotels across the river, but that if they do stay down on the Mall, they’ll miss as much of the real D.C. as you’d miss by hovering around Times Square on a trip to New York.

    It’s also fair to say that there are many types of folks in the so-called “Tea Party” movement, just as there are in most political movements — but that Glenn Beck is a Father Coughlin-level demagogue who doesn’t know what the heck he’s talking about, and that those drawn to D.C. to see him are probably not the most enlightened members of the small government camp.

  18. Sorry Tiffany it’s perfectly obvious that lots of folks can call people like me names but can’t take it when you are called on it.

    Posts on my own FB page and on AOL news make it clear that people around the country think DC journalists are liars and morons to pretend that all of DC is safe and to try to quash some guidance given to strangers visiting.

    Did your website for example even report on the 70 person gang rumble in the metro this month that left several hospitalized?

    Have you even advised people that the National Transportation Safety Board has ordered 5 red line stations closed for repairs all of Labor Day Weekend?

    Who pays for this flak-ery?

  19. Mr. Majors:

    To answer your questions in reverse order:

    1.) WE pay for this site. It was built from our own money, we have no sponsors, no “benefactors”, no grants. We built it from the ground up. You’re mistaken if you think any of our bloggers are paid for their contributions; every single one of us is a volunteer and blog because we want to, not for monetary gain.

    Yes, we do have advertising on the site now, a recent addition. But if you think we sit back in million dollar homes, smoking cigars, sipping brandy and basking in the glow of the millions we rake in here, you’re sadly mistaken and misinformed.

    Fact is, all of us have other full-time jobs; we write on this site because we want to share the great things we love and have a passion for about DC with others, something we felt was lacking in the blogosphere around here. And based on our site statistics, people from the area AND around the world seem to agree with us.

    2.) We did indeed report that 5 Metro stations will close over the Labor Day weekend. And for point of fact, the NTSB did NOT order WMATA to close; WMATA chose to comply with the NTSB’s recommendations. (Something WMATA has not always done, with tragic consequences.)

    3.) No, we did not report on the Metro mob – because it happened late Friday night. We rarely post anything on the site over the weekend, as we all have lives. Our site is M-F traffic driven; because we are volunteer (see #1), we don’t have someone sitting on a newsdesk posting immediate news. On Monday, several outlets had already reported it and we felt there was nothing else to add to the discussion. Have we avoided the story? No. When we reference it, we hyperlink to appropriate sources.

    You seem to be operating from the idea that this site is some politicized attempt to gloss over the problems DC has. If you spent time actually looking through our archives, you’d find over our many years of writing that we actually take DC to task on several issues, including but not limited to: WMATA, DDOT, Pepco, City Council, Members of Congress, the NPS, tourists, and locals. The overall point of this site is to show that DC is more than what people like you make it out to be, which is apparently some cesspool-ridden gangland that puts Detroit to shame. (And yes, I exaggerate, slightly, to make a point.)

    In fact, the entire point of this feature was to point out to the incoming demonstrators that we do, indeed, have much to offer them when they’re not doing their Tea Party thing. That you somehow equated this feature – which welcomes said protestors, not derides them or calls them names – with some political smear job, tells me that you just don’t get it.

    I do sincerely hope that people coming into town this weekend don’t listen to you and instead take the chance to explore and enjoy the great things this city has to offer. And if they have questions about where to go or what to do, to dig through our site or read a guidebook. Their experience will be much more enriching than listening to you.

  20. Thanks for the info.

    I will try not to lump you then with the majority of the websites that simply want to attack my guide because what the really want to do is criticize Glenn Beck, which for some reason they cannot manage to do directly and honestly.

    I trust then that you will not do what they have done, which is to claim that ignorant tourists can wander wherever they want, and that anyone who says otherwise is a racist.

    Thanks for the clarification.

  21. I daresay if you’d read this feature first instead of blindly lashing out with your boilerplate comments, then we wouldn’t have needed this conversation, not to mention the time drain it’s taken from my paying job that I now need to make up during my lunch hour.

    You’re welcome.

  22. Pingback: Local DC bloggers transform Tea Party attacks into PR opportunity for the city

  23. Bruce,

    Thank you for being so concerned with our “tax rates.” Hopefully you and the rest of the Tea Party will take the opportunity of this excursion to DC to reflect on what it really means to be over-taxed.

    Since you claim to be from DC, surely you’re aware of our on-going struggle against “taxation without representation?” Perhaps you’d like to use your new-found notoriety in the national media, and with the Tea Party, to bring this subject more attention?

    I admit, I haven’t followed very much Tea Party literature, but in what i have read, I have never once seen any Tea Party pundit speak out against the horrific tax situation in DC. Honestly, from what I can see, it appears that the average Tax Party member is only concerned about their back pocket and not the plight of their fellow, hard-working, tax-paying, Americans.

    While the Tea Party decries high tax rates, those of you who don’t live in DC actually have the ability to vote for legislators who have a say in how those dollars are spent. Likewise, no State is subject to the same restrictions on spending local tax revenue the way DC is (ever hear of Home Rule?).

    So, when Tea Partiers come to DC, I hope they visit everywhere in this city — and speak, respectfully, with their brothers and sisters who live here. I think it will show them that DC isn’t just the “leftover” (cute! but kinda pathetic) place you claim it is, but is instead a city of hard-working, tax-paying, American citizens.

    I also hope that the Tea Party will protest not just high taxes, but also the unfair penalties levied upon citizens of DC, namely the denial of a right to vote, and a say, in our federal legislature, and the continuing denial of fully self-realized Home Rule.

    Show us that you really care about taxation and not just the taxes you pay. Show us that this is about a broken system, and not your desire to take without giving.

    Oh, and Bruce, if you say racist and hurtful things, people will call you a racist and a demagogue. Perhaps you should consider that in the future before you write with such vitriol and slant.

  24. Bruce strikes me as a type that’s pretty common in DC, the resentful been-here-forever stick in the mud sort who thinks he knows more than anyone and deserves more respect than he’s getting for it. And the idea that there are only a few small “good” parts of DC has been a pretty common idea amongst the white middle class in this area for decades, even many of those that live in DC. Newbies would never understand this, but for those who have lived here long enough to remember the city burning in the 1960s, there’s perhaps some rationality to it, even if it’s unfortunate and out of date.

    More importantly, his views were outdated and kind of funny, but certainly not newsworthy, until a million blogs with nothing better to write decided to hype it and then the craven media picked up on it. It might have been newsworthy if it was the Teabaggers official position, but no, it was just some cantankerous old coot who was trying to be helpful and who didn’t deserve to have his name dragged through the mud, nor called a “troll” for his unsophisticated efforts to explain and defend himself.

    Also, the “welcome to DC” part of this post could have been written by a bot for all the tour guide cliches it strings together, and finally, speak for yourself WeLoveDC! I assure you most of us do NOT want the teabaggers here, and I’m certain that goes for most of the businesses here too. Not that they’d patronize anything other than fast food joints and souvenir stands.