Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Self Loathing in DC

I was shopping in the CVS on the 1400 block of P Street the other day when I couldn't help but overhear a guy on a mobile phone. (And really, are there many occasions when you can't pay attention to someone else's full-volume phone call?)

This man was standing in the detergent aisle nearly freaking out. His side of the conversation went like this:
Do I want to smell like a mountain breeze? I don't know. I can't decide. Why can't I find a good detergent? I hate CVS. G_d I hate this city. I miss New York.
Are there not understocked CVS stores in New York? And what's with the mountain breeze scent that can send this man into a tirade?

Anyway, DC bashing is lazy and tiresome. Even vaguely insulting comments, such as this, are starting to bother me. Do former New Yorkers also complain about living in other cities like Boston? I don't know; I'm honestly curious.

To counter Mr. CVS's anti-DC drama, I offer the following decidedly pro-Capitol City happy points.

Our city is beautiful: Central DC is modeled after Paris, and I find both cities to be stunning.Though we lack a distinctive skyline, many credit our height restrictions for keeping DC's urban landscape beautiful. Besides, flying up the Potomac River on the approach to National Airport is one of the most lovely views in the US. We also have nearly 90,000 acres of protected green space and the greatest number of urban National Park Service properties. It smells better in our city too.

We're intelligent: In the most recent census statistics, nearly 40 percent of DC residents had a bachelor's degree or higher. NYC was on par with the national average at 27.4 percent.

We're environmentally aware: DC will soon be the largest US city to make LEED environmentally friendly standards mandatory in our building codes.

It's still more affordable here: I'm the first to complain about the costs of living in DC, but real estate, parking, and retail still tend to be more accessibly priced than in NYC.

To anyone who's having phase of DC hate, I recommend this itinerary: Have a drink at Old Ebbit or the Willard and appreciate the history of those bars; take the short walk to Great Falls; drive by the monuments at night; visit a jazz club on U Street; take in a show at the Kennedy Center or Ford's Theater; see the Hope Diamond; and, for goodness sakes, get off of P Street more often.


Mr. 14th & You said...

Just a quick clarification on how DC's layout came to be.

The city of Washington was not, technically, modeled after Paris. At least not *solely* after Paris. The plans for the U.S. Capitol Building grounds and the National Mall can trace their roots back to Versailles, which L'Enfant would undoubtedly have been familiar with. But the overall layout of the city is a plan that was completely the original work of L'Enfant. His concepts for broad avenues, circles, public squares and gardens were influenced by his studies of the layouts of cities such as Paris, Rome, and London, among others. The plan for DC is one that is very much grounded in European architecture and aesthetics, but not to any one particular city.

Which is all to say that, yes, DC is indeed a truly beautiful--and unique--city. We're not NYC, or Boston, or Chicago, or LA--and we shouldn't apologize for that. There may be many legitimate complaints and gripes about living here, but it is also absolutely one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

nwdc said...

Good God does DC bashing drive me nuts. I mean every city has it's positives and negatives, but it seems like more and more people are focusing on our negatives. Sucks to them I say.

But what's really driving me crazy lately is when people are comparing DC restaurants/ bars/ whatevers and they use the whole "X is so much better in Y city". I want to stab myself in the ear with a spoon when I hear that. YOU'RE IN DC, YOU SCHMUCK!!!!

Sorry...had to rant.

Anonymous said...

I like DC, honestly I do. There is a definite lameness within the bar and restaurant scene but I think it is improving greatly.

mocha mayhem said...

I would say to the the same audience, by way of suggestion-- get out of the Federal City and into the neighborhoods and actually meet the people who live here and have participated in the city's interesting and colorful local history.

DC-bashing usually comes from those who are attached to viewing the city from a one-dimensional viewpoint. Drive over to Hillcrest and take in the views; walk around the Aquatic Gardens and neighborhood cherry trees in Kenilworth . . . and say good morning back to the people who smile and greet you as you walk down the streets (you'd notice if you weren't shouting into your cell phone or listening to your iPod).

I agree, DC is a beautiful city.

Anonymous said...

This absolutely happens in Boston and the people there are even more sensitive to it, I think. Don't know about Philly...

Chris L said...

For people that are willing to bash the city they live in, there are 3 possibilities:

1) They don't really mean it and just wanted something to bitch about...therefore they are wankers.

2) In a vain attempt to be cool, they want everyone around them to know that they are from another city. Apparently they haven't yet caught on to the fact that this is DC, and you will constantly meet people from genuinely interesting cities from all over the world, not just New York. The fact that this observation escaped them makes them wankers.

3) They really do hate DC, but somehow lack control of their own destiny and wound up here against their own wishes. Therefore, they are wankers.