Monday, September 20, 2010

Why DC is Cooler Than Your Town

As the child of two parents in the Army, I've lived in several states and overseas. I went to high school in the booming metropolis of Boiling Springs, a suburb of Spartanburg, South Carolina. (Sidenote - we were just in the news!) I went to college in DC, spent over a year in Los Angeles, a summer in Chicago, a summer in Philadelphia, and visited a lot of major cities in the U.S. (Minneapolis is extremely underrated by the way.)

I think it's safe for me to say that I know a little bit about places in DC and outside of DC. I've come to the conclusion that aside from Los Angeles, Washington, DC might be the coolest place ever. And the only reason LA trumps DC is because LA is not susceptible to things like Snowpocalypse and Nike boots.

Why does DC rock? So glad you asked.

1) The diversity of the nightlife here. On any given night, yes, including Monday - Marvin Mondays!, you can find live music, spoken word, an open club, several bars, 24 hour diners, great food, and a stimulating conversation. The South has great sweet tea, but so does Eatonville on U Street and Horace and Dickies in NE.

2) It is the cheapest place to go on a great date. And when I say cheap, I mean FREE. Especially in the summer. Between Screen on the Green, (free movies on the National Mall, Jazz in the Gardens, countless exhibits in the many Smithsonian museums (there is not one Smithsonian, tourists, the Smithsonian is an Empire of Museums), cute coffeehouses and cafes in every other corner, the monuments, and parks galore just begging you to lay out a blanket and whisper David Banner and Ying Yang Twin tracks into a lady's ear, DC is the winner for free things to do.

3) It's a college town. And who doesn't love a college town? They bring a certain vitality to any city and ensure that there are always drink specials, impressionable men and women with the desire to change the world, and a free "intern" to make copies at your office. Just kidding.... (I love you Sarah! Just leave them on my desk, I'm at lunch.) The colleges include American, Catholic, Georgetown, George Washington (with an Ivy League price tag for reasons I don't understand), Howard, Gallaudet, and the University of the District of Columbia. There's also a few others just outside the District like the University of Maryland and George Mason.

4) Barry and 'Chelle's live here. Excuse me, the President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle live here. I can call them Barry and 'Chelles 'cause we're neighbors.

5) Driving is a luxury you don't need. Public transit here is great! Even though the trains aren't 24 hours, many of the buses are 24 hours, and plus... I'm glad they shut down the train system to clean it. It's pretty safe - even the cursed Red Line- and it goes almost anywhere you need to go. Everyone rides the trains from engineers to lawyers to students.

6) It's a big small city. Similarly to LA, DC is made up of a lot of smaller neighborhoods. Eastern Market, the U Street Corridor, Dupont Circle, H St Corridor, Chinatown, Capitol Hill, the Waterfront, Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan, Georgetown, etc..... The difference is you could walk from one neighborhood to another without catching a charley horse. DC is pretty small, geographically speaking, which makes it convenient when meeting up with friends. (Try telling someone in Pasadena to meet you in Santa Monica... they'll look you at like you're crazy).

6b) Everyone knows everybody. Or, everyone knows someone who knows someone. I doubt that there are more than 3 degrees of separation between most folks in DC, outside of the hermits and members of the Secret Service who aren't allowed to make friends. This is goo, if you like to network but bad if you're promiscuous. You will get caught.

7) There's always a parade!
And by parade I mean rally, protest, or march. If you're one of those hippie, the "Man" is out to get us, tree-hugging, I-make-my-own-peanut-butter types, there's always a cause for you to take up. If you're not, there's always one to watch.

8) It's a jumble of diversity, and it's almost impossible to avoid any given demographic. Yeah, DC is like most places in the world, in that a lot of it is segregated but honestly, you can't avoid the teenagers banging on cans (go-go) any more than you can avoid the agitated Hill staffers crisscrossing the city. Because of Reason #6, every neighborhood bleeds into the next, and public transit makes it easy for all classes to make it to all neighborhoods. So, while Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown is lined with boutiques and fine dining, it's movie theater is frequented by brown kids from across the social strata too. The marquee above Chinatown is a popular place for tourists to smile for the camera, but also a popular place for the needy to ask for change. Some may consider this a negative, but I call it a learning experience! It's good for people to see someone who doesn't look like them. DC is a true example of the American melting pot.

Your thoughts? What did I forget?