The Features

Why I (Still) Love DC: Patrick

White House Bowling

Bowling at the White House. Photo by author.

So, I have a hashtag. It’s called #RageLikePho.

People have come to associate me with the hashtag to the point it’s often mentioned in introductions to other people.

“This is Patrick, he has his own hashtag.”

People ask to take “#RageLikePho photos” with me thinking the hashtag refers to the goofy yet on-trend face I tend to make when people take photos of me.

They are not entirely correct. The roots of #RageLikePho stem from a We Love DC writers meeting back in January of 2013, when we discussed content ideas and approach of writing stories that reflected each writer’s own personality. A lot of regular features at We Love DC used a well-established pronoun-verb-object nomenclature: She/He Loves DC, We Love Music, We Love Drinks.

In a pizza-induced coma-like state, I started joking around about writing articles on the one good thing I can do: go out all night. I messed up the naming however and jokingly suggested a series of stories that recap my weekend benders and call it “Rage Like Pho.”

Everyone laughed none the less.

A few days later I used it as a hashtag for the first time:

The first mention of #RageLikePho on Twitter

The rest is history.

When people ask me what #RageLikePho is I say it’s more like a lifestyle than a face. You might think it means rampant drinking, dance parties, or streaking through the quad. While it does have some debaucherous overtures, I personally think #RageLikePho is about having a good time, but not in a Clarendon Bro kind of way.

All I really need are friends and a chill place to hang out in a neighborhood that gives us options to mix it up after awhile. I’m not a one-bar kind of guy. Luckily DC has always given me those options in the form of many diverse neighborhoods and experiences.

Bar hopping in Dupont? Jazz in the Garden? Bowling in the White House? For the past nine years now I’ve lived in the DMV and have been drawn to the combination of history, power, and urban life that is truly unique. Sure, Los Angeles or New York may be bigger and Portland or Austin maybe hipper but there isn’t a place that has the right combination that DC has.

The District is my Goldilocks match in a world full of many great cities.

It’s why I fell in love with DC nine years ago and I continue to love it today, whether I’m Raging Like Pho or not.

The Features

Why I (Still) Love DC: Joanna

“Snow Shovel 0, Snow & Ice 1.”
“Just die already winter. I hate you. Die.”
“Winter wonderland, we good. You can go now.”

These are the updates I woke up to in February from friends in DC. As of January, I live in Los Angeles, and it was surreal to read people’s misery – to know how cold the winters can feel on the National Mall – and still miss the place. So. Damn. Much.

When my husband and I first moved to DC we didn’t know if it was temporary or permanent, but we decided to invest everything we had in the community there, just to see what happened. We weren’t expecting anything.

Scratch that – we were expecting lobbyists as our only drinking buddies. Dismal.

We left DC five years later, so I guess it was temporary. But by the time we left, our drinking buddies were actors and graphic designers and animators and librarians and, ok, a few lobbyists.

Truth is, we left right when we wanted to stay the most, kicking and screaming. Even reading those icy posts from friends, I had to hold my hands back from typing “cheap flights to DCA.”

Here are three things I miss terribly about DC:

1) Having a conversation with anyone about anything.

The city is full of experts, educated at every level and on every subject. People settle in the nation’s capital not to become bureaucrats, but because they care about stuff. That passion and intelligence is unlike anywhere else in the country, and it’s something I took for granted.

2) Getting around.

In DC, you can go outside and walk, bike, or ride wherever you need to go. Give yourself extra time for Metro, and demand better from it, sure; but never forget you have it, and other options, when so many cities don’t.

3) The village and the metropolis.

In DC, your shows go to Broadway and your Fringe is fringe. You can spend a day for free at one of the best art museums in the world right before joining the regulars at that dive bar. You know everyone and still have so many more people to meet. You can get lost in the crowd or run for president.

DC attracts some of the most creative go-getters in the world, and they still smile at each other and know how to share a proper whiskey. It’s the only place I’ve ever lived where people are as kind as they are educated, as empathetic as they are intense. DC deserves the naysayers’ gratitude, the country’s investment, and the right to vote.

So yeah, I miss it all.

I miss it all except the weather.

The Features

Why I (Still) Love DC: Dave

Photo by author.

Photo by author.

Sometimes I think it’s easier to love a city, or a place, than it is to love another person. It’s apples and oranges, really, or maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s just as hard, just as complicated, and just as wonderfully exhausting to love a city.

I used to write a snarky blog called Why I Hate DC, and I’d spend my time finding things to gripe about, usually accompanied by Simpsons references or funny pictures. I wrote a lot and some of it was pretty funny. But it was tiring. It was exhausting to be looking for reasons to be upset.

Years ago, when Tom invited me to write for We Love DC, I was intrigued. I was excited by the premise of the site, its attitude, and the community of contributors. I made the leap, from Hate to Love, and it was wonderful.

I’ve been a few different people in the time since I wrote here. I’ve been a twenty-something, just old enough to think I wasn’t stupid anymore. I’m now thirty-one, gradually accepting the fact that I’ll always be pretty dumb. But, I’ve tried to keep a positive attitude about my life and my city. That’s in no small part to the friends and community that came from this place.

To be truthful, it’s incredibly hard to keep a positive attitude. There’s always a million things vying for your attention, and a lot of them are negative. Political scandals. The Metro crashing or bursting into flames. Children being abducted. Services for our most needy failing. You get the idea.

You have to make a choice to be positive. You won’t always do it. You’ll fail. In fact, you’ll probably fail more than you succeed (indeed like most everything in life). But you can make the choice to say you love the place you live, and that you’ll try to find the good and to praise it when you can.

That’s what I loved about this site, and more importantly, about the folks I met writing here. To Tom, Tiffany, Don, Jenn, Katie, and many others — thank you. I owe you some of you more than you know (and others, you know how much I owe you).

I know that long after we’ve all moved on to what’s next, part of us will always be centered around the idea that we can and will choose to love DC. For that I am so thankful.

The Features

Why I (Still) Love DC: Tiffany

When we started this site nearly 8 years ago, we got a little gentle ribbing from other local blogs about how so many of our original Why I Love DC entries were just super-earnest variations on “DC is where I truly became who I am.”

Funny thing about that: DC is where I became who I am.

DC is where I am becoming who I will be.

DC is where I am, becoming.

The longer I spend in DC, the more I am entwined with it, the more inextricably we become part of one another. Every landmark, every neighborhood, every watering hole goes from being a feature of this geographic location to being an anchor for my life.

When the cherry blossoms peek out and promise the coming spring, I remember the spring I spent riding my bike to work along the National Mall, knowing that it was the only way I was going to see the blossoms that year because I was working too hard to launch an important project.

When I’m cutting through the city, trying to shave a few minutes off my too-long commute, I’m not just driving through strangers’ neighborhoods, but passing near to the homes of dear friends where we grill dinner and relax on the patio, or friends we haven’t seen in far too long and resolve to shove aside the never-ending press of our calendars and make time to bring them over, cook for them, laugh with them, and relax.

Coming up North Capitol, I pass the hospital where my son was born. I drive through the neighborhood my husband Tom and I chose together and see the school Charlie will attend, the playground where we take him to run around and induce a long nap, the homes of our friends whose children will grow up playing with ours. I marvel that they get to grow up in a city other kids will only get to visit once on a school trip.

As the site called We Love DC draws to an end, I still love DC; how could I not? I may first have loved DC for her beauty, her talent, her quirks… but as the years pass, like any other lovers whose knowledge of each other deepens with the passage of time, I love DC for the things affectionately familiar, the things I am still discovering, and the sweet memories we have made and will make together.

The Features

Retrospective: Why We (Still) Love DC

Since our founding in 2008, every writer who joined We Love DC was asked to pen a love letter to the city. Our original Why I Love DC series became a running manifesto for how we wanted to engage with our readership and our lives beyond the capitol. We were unabashedly cheerleading for the District, with no agenda other than to challenge the dominant opinion at the time that DC wasn’t worthy of abiding love. The litany we fought against was: “It’s a transient city;” “No one wants to stay here;” “It’s just a political city;” “It’s boring.”

We felt differently. We still do. All those myths we set out to bust.

Over the subsequent years, we’ve asked nothing more of our writers than to speak the truth about their experiences living here, to be positive, and to write about what they loved. Now that we’re winding down the site, it felt appropriate to ask alumni to revisit their Why I Love DC pieces and take their current pulse on the city’s heartbeat.

While many of the articles written the first time around focused on what it meant to find yourself in love with a city unexpectedly, a city at the time maligned and misunderstood by many, our revisitation comes at a different time for DC. It seems almost overnight the District went from punchline to cool, but of course, it was a far more organic process than the hype would lead you to believe. Those of us who’ve directly experienced the waves from murder capital to millennial chic are thrilled by the District taking its rightful place as a cosmopolitan nexus, a gateway to the world, its beauty fully appreciated, while at the same time some can feel a conflicted nostalgia for those other days.

Like all great love affairs, it’s complicated. That’s what makes passion interesting.

So please join us as we launch our retrospection on Why I (Still) Love DC with articles by past writers over the next several days. Sift through the original Why I Love DC archive for some memory lane action. Join the dialogue #WhyIStillLoveDC and let everyone know your own pulse.

We’re still curious. And that’s as it should be.

The District

He Loved DC: Marion S. Barry (1936 – 2014)

The news hits you like a ton of bricks, if you’ve ever lived in the District of Columbia: Marion Barry passed away this morning at United Medical Center. Barry was a four-term mayor of the District of Columbia, and a four-time council member for Ward 8, with a career in DC politics spanning 35 years. 

The contentious council member and former mayor was often a polarizing figure, censured for his actions with his constituent service fund, frequently in trouble with the IRS for failing to pay his taxes and with the city for failing to pay his parking tickets, he is best known for his six-month stint in prison related to a drug charge after a videotaped sting operation in the Vista Hotel on M Street (now a Westin Hotel). 

Beyond those charges, and those misdeeds, it is impossible to ignore Barry’s humanitarian streak. His focus on jobs programs for youth brought the Summer Youth Employment Program to fruition during his first term – something many residents of the District say was their very first job. It is also impossible to ignore Barry’s time in the civil rights movement as a co-founder of Pride, Inc, which provided relief for those whose houses were destroyed in the 1968 riots, as well as job training and food for the poor.

It is sometimes impossible for me to resolve the Marion Barry of the civil rights movement and his focus on his constituents in Ward 8, with the Marion Barry of the Vista Hotel, the tax scofflaw, and council misconduct. The extremes for which Barry is known make him out to be larger than life, with impossible conflicts of character. No man better represented the constant fight between the better angels of our nature and our human flaws than did Marion Barry. He was a complicated figure who did much for many of the least of us, but couldn’t keep himself out of trouble.

If while he was alive, Barry’s presence was a target for criticism from the rest of America – some would say the image of Senator Marion Barry was the single greatest argument against statehood for the District – in his passing, he gives one last gift, freeing the city from that association. 

I visited the Wilson Building recently, to see some friends at Councilmember McDuffie’s office, and up on the fifth floor, just past the council chambers, is a set of standees made for the 40th anniversary of the Home Rule Act. There were a number of pictures I’d never seen before from the early days of the city’s new, more free period. In so many of them are a young and vibrant Marion Barry in his shirt-sleeves working on the city. I think I would’ve liked Barry better if that was the one I knew first, instead of the one that made the city into a series of jokes. Thankfully, those jokes are over now. I think that is one last gift he can give us all.

Rest in peace, Mr. Mayor.

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