Friday, November 7, 2008

dc's khakis in bunch again

One of my first impressions of DC was that many of its staunchest supporters have a giant chip on their shoulders; a monkey on their backs, if you will. Or at least a Cheney on their asses. The point is, I often find that when anyone attempts to criticize, generalize or otherwise allude to anything that might suggest DC is chock full of federally employed tools, this group gets unduly defensive.

After living here for a longish bit of time as well as meeting a handful of people that have avoided joining the ranks of the Capitol Hill stereotype, I can see why people find articles like this one, published yesterday in the New York Times (which I'm thinking probably bunches these pro-DCers' khakis even more), annoying.

To save you from reading the entire article (if you haven't already), it's a cutesy, largely throw-away political piece about how the personality of the President influences general trends and the overall feeling of Washington. Just how cutesy and throw-away? Here's the first line:

Bill Clinton brought jazz, Rhodes scholars, a slice of Arkansas and all-night pizza policy sessions. When George W. Bush arrived, Texans took over the town. Blue jeans were out; coats and ties and cowboy boots were in.

Surely, Ms. Sheryl Gay Stolberg, is aiming for satire here (although rather non-sensical, as I'm pretty sure cowboys love jeans), but you get the idea. Apparently Obama, who is "young, hip and multicultural, with a Harvard law degree, a writer’s sensibility and a smooth left-handed jump shot," will oust the Texans and bring back denim. Or whatever. The point is, sh*t just won't change politically on Capitol Hill (although that remains to be seen...), but culturally, as well. Fair enough.

So why are people, particularly over at DCist, so TO'd? For one, I suppose the article fails to send the proverbial full body shot of what DC really looks like. Clearly, with 93 percent of DC's electorate voting in favor of Obama while Bush is in the White House, no less, suggests that the city has not, in fact, been overrun by Texans in cowboy boots and 10-gallon hats. If that were so, wouldn't it seem more likely that McCain would have won 93 percent of the electorate? I ♥ my logic.

But for anyone with a slightly deeper knowledge of DC, we realize most of the city is far removed from what goes down in the White House. Rather than worrying about this policy or that appropriation, we worry about walking home late at night and not getting shot in the face. Or, perhaps more telling, heading to Sunday brunch and not getting capped. Then again, I guess it's not out of the realm of possibility that Cheney is the one wielding the gun...

But who's targeting whom is not the point. The point is, the New York Times article spoke to the image of DC as the Capital of the Free World, not to DC as the city with the highest per capita crime rate. Or to DC, a town that, despite the overwhelming clusterf*ck of government activity, still has a pretty respectable scene if you do some digging. After all, Dan Deacon's playing the Hirshhorn tonight and I'm sure Bush has never even heard of him. And who knows, maybe he'll wear jeans! CRAZY!

Now maybe it's just me, but I don't have a problem with articles, like Ms. Stolberg's, that purport the DC stereotype that everything revolves around politics here, including the city's very identity. Why? Because it's largely true. If your job doesn't involve the government in some way, shape or form, then you, my e-friend (and really, if your job doesn't involve the government, I would like to be your friend), are the exception. If you don't find yourself out networking with an array of tools at least a couple of times per year, then you, again, my hopeful future friend, are the exception. Like it or not, that's life in DC -- Northwest, Northeast, Southwest and Southeast.

This town only exists because of the government. Think about it, DC was never a port city or major business center (save for government contracting). People don't travel here to check out the fabulous fashion or music scene (because it barely exists); instead, they come to see the various monuments, meet their representatives and tour the Capitol. Sure the Smithsonians are must-sees, but judging from firsthand experience of my own, whenever I came to DC as a tourist when I was a kid, it was government first, museums second. And, if I was lucky, hotel swimming pool third, which, obviously, would've been my No. 1 pick.

It's time people in DC just accept the city's fate. As long as the government sits itself on the metaphorical toilet that is Capitol Hill, this town will now and forever be thought of as just that -- a giant government-owned and operated inexhaustible goblet. One that no plumber, not even Joe (one last shout out!), can fix if it breaks. And it breaks a lot. And smells weird.


Adam said...

I think you and Ms. Stolberg might be working with some different definitions of DC. While you speak of DC proper and those that vote here as residents, I suspect that Ms. Stolberg is referring to the greater DC area. The part that includes all of the government and government contractor types in northern VA and all of the DC dwellers who are here for a few years but retain their residency (and pay their taxes) elsewhere.
These two different definitions would certainly lead to very different conclusions of what DC is like.

I-66 said...

I'm wearing khakis right now.

Boomhauer said...

The simple explanation to everything is that NYCers who move down here (and to a lesser extent Bostonians and Philadelphians) are gigantic cunts. Newsflash: Most of the country hates New York City and the East Coast and doesn't give a shit about what we do and do not have compared to Manhattan, Brooklyn, etc.

And if Flatbush or Park Slope were so fucking wonderful, you'd still be there. There is no gun to your head saying that you have to move to D.C. There are plenty of fucking opportunities to work and BoHo it up without ever having to leave your loft apartment. Some places in the country are for serious political dork-ery and someplaces aren't.

Coming to D.C. and whining about why everyone is so nerdy and unfashionable is like going to Nebraska and wondering what the fuck is up with people wearing overalls, John Deere hats and are driving combines: It's the nature of the business, asshole

Boomhauer said...

P.S. This was directed at the royal "you"

Skywalker said...

I agree about the definitions of DC - I think includes the greater area of NOVA and MD.

I think khakis and jackets will always be in style - I'm from the South. But I must say that DC will never really conform to who is in office - its just a conservative place in terms of fashion. Suits and skirts reign supreme. This was the first place that I saw 20 years dress like they were 60!

Anyhoo I do take offense with government as I have been all day. Please please please people -don't hate on us bureaucrats. We're working folks just like everyone else! Hate on the politicans please.

nate said...

I love that this place is a company town. I love that you can have an actual, real (even informed) conversation with almost anybody at almost any bar. I like the impatience and overall speadfreak mentality that comes with being inside the beltway.

Now, all that being said, we do have a higher concentration of a certain type of jackass simply by virtue of being this close to The Hill and the House (and if you happen to be a staffer that's not a complete tool, I want to be YOUR friend) but that's just part of the deal. You accept and move on. And, being that I hail from the bastion of civilization known as "Hoodbridge", I can put up with a few popped-collared douchebags if it means that the average person I'm having a beer next to can come up with something intelligent to say about the world. Besides, the LNS crowd just lets me indulge in my all time favorite pastime. Pointing and laughing.

Oh, and boomhauer- f-ing relax, dude.

Anonymous said...

Bravo. However, it sounds like you offended a few people. Who would have guessed insulting an entire area and their toolish beliefs would cause a little hatred. With that being said, I can't wait to see all the Staffers on the hill walking around with their suit pants hanging off their asses. :)

Yours truly,
Your buddy.

Marissa said...


That's my point. I think that people that get so defensive about this place forget that DC's biggest claim to fame is the Capitol, which is why it's stereotyped as such. Sure it's not the "true" DC (whatever that is), but it sure as hell is a part of it, which is why I don't get so angry over articles like that the one in question.


They better at least be tight!




Not all gov't employees are evil lackeys. It's just that generalizations are so much easier to work with for the purposes of this blogging endeavor...


I agree and disagree. I love talking to people who can form complete thoughts, but there's a certain type of bullshittery that passes as "smart" in DC. I just don't buy that people are smarter here than in other cities...


I don't even know how to reply to you with that. I'll refrain.

maryjanejeff said...

I'm a contractor who wants my agency to convert me into a Fed. Can I be your friend? I know of cool places to eat in Old Town for not a lot, I know cool people, and lotws of running / biking routes too. Can't recommend killer drinks though, I think seeing a $18.49 case of Bud Light cans on "$1.50 off Special" has driven me to sobriety for good.