February 28, 2005

Why does Meridian Hill hate America?

bag.jpg

I saw this sitting on a ledge in Meridian Hill (Malcolm X) Park last week. Inside: Tequiza. Make of that what you will.

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Rockville Rock City

Nestled in deepest suburbia sits Joe's Record Paradise, the coolest used record store that side of the Beltway. You'll need a car and about 45 minutes to get there even on a weekend, but if business takes you yonder, it's really, really, really worth a trip. For the princely sum of $27, I got the following on vinyl:

Eddy Grant, Killer on the Rampage
The Clash, London Calling (at a third of the price of the 180 gram reissue)
XTC, Black Sea
Men Without Hats, Collection
Iggy Pop, some sort of badly-labeled "Rock Club Versions" copyrighted 1980. I guess P. Diddy didn't invent the remix, after all.

Add that to my growing obsession with getting strange Out Hud and Pulp B-sides and remixes on Ebay and you have a reason to go to the next bluestate.

Megahotness.

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February 27, 2005

Brace yourselves

us_dca_closeradar_medium_usen.jpg

At this point, it looks like a badly-formed Pac Man about to eat us.

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February 25, 2005

Healing the lame!

This is about as low as you can sink, whether you're the guy or the hired wing-woman.

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Media, darlings

Once again, the Washington Post Co. loves them some bloggers. Today, M.G. and N.M. have made their way to the front page of the Post.

And you know I'd get one of those iPod cozies, but I need an iPod first.

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The non-f*ckers are fighting back

Are Virginians opposed to taking the commonwealth back to the Spanish Inquisition era on the ascendancy?

First, the state Senate killsthe visible underwear bill. Then, they kill the speak-tongues-in-class bill on the grounds that Jefferson had it right the first time when he refused to blather on about a "Christian nation" like the 700 Club shills who are so fond of putting words in his mouth.

There are still plenty of myopic blowhards in the state who are pissed about this:

"We need to have a constitutional provision that's for the people, for all the people, including the local government officials that frankly need a civics lesson," said Michael P. Farris, a constitutional scholar who ran for lieutenant governor in 1993.

With your focus on "all" the people, you conveniently forget that there are at least a half-dozen, possibly up to several hundred thousand Virginians who are either not Christian or not obnoxious jerks who need to spend every waking hour reminding other people of how religious they are or trying to convince them that they're going to hell if they don't tithe to this or that preacher.

It seems to me like this is a victory for modern values and away from useless grandstanding and posturing. Now to get started with that Dulles rail line. Chop chop!

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February 24, 2005

The true test of a Metro warrior

dilemma.jpg

You have learned much so far, grasshoppa. You know to move to the end of the Red Line platform if you're getting off at Gallery Place. You know when the last train leaves U Street. You always stand to the right.

But here we have a challenge to test your mettle. You are at Columbia Heights. You are going to Union Station. Will you go through Gallery for the direct route and wait four additional minutes or switch at Fort Totten for a change of plans, fresh air and a possibly hastened arrival?

Which will you choose?

Which will get you there faster?

Which route will allow you to sit?

The time is rapidly approaching. Make your decision, Grasshoppa!

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Technical problems

I'm sorry, I can't blog right now, as I just saw the new, really long and strange Burger King ad with Darius Rucker (?) and I need to pull my jaw off the floor.

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February 23, 2005

To-night!

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Famous for D.C. sighting

Now that I have the time to look it up, I'm pretty sure it was Eric Alterman I saw waiting outside the Futureheads show on Monday night. This is what he looks like.

I wasn't sure initially because he writes about music, but prefers Dylan and Springsteen to stuff from this century and he lives in Manhattan. Maybe he's widening his horizons.

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Don't let them tell you it's temporary

parking.jpg

You're looking at what is likely the oldest parking sign in D.C., dating back to about a month after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, at 4th and F, NW. I bet the civilians who used the lot before the "Act Jan. 15, 1942" thought it was temporary and that they'd get their parking back after the war. But government has a tendency towards institutional momentum, and the people who enjoyed their convenient parking were in no rush to relinquish it. It outlived most of them. Think about that next time they put up Jersey barriers near your office.

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You know your neighborhood is gentrifying when

- Someone opens a Thai restaurant.

(via the excellent but never linked-to In Shaw, where the dingy Giant will soon give way to a thousand Marvelous Markets.)

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February 22, 2005

Great Paul Weller's Ghost!*

I went with N.M. (who has the pictures) and K.G. to see the Futureheads at the 9:30 Club last night and to promote bluestate, which I shouldn't have to remind you is more important than being well-rested on a Thursday morning.

Monday's gig was the first show in the Futureheads' North American tour, and the first U.S. show ever for the Shout Out Louds, Sweden's answer to the question "I wonder if there is a band from Scandanavia that sounds like Stellarstar, but with more of that helpless emo vibe we all love so much?"

I usually try to check out the openers just in case some awesome band on their way to stardom starts off toiling away at 8:30 as everyone shuffles in. This wasn't the case last night, so I'll spare you descriptions of their musical styles and just mock their style.

High Speed Scene: If you fancy yourself the lead singer of a New Wave band to the point that you announce that you will play some more "New Wave hits" in the middle of your set, ditch the Spicoli surfer burnout look. Also, when you play your "power ballad" (also very New Wave), don't invite people to take out their lighters. They'll do that if they feel like it.

Shout Out Louds: Meet Adam, probable winner of the 2002 Stockholm Rivers Cuomo Lookalike Contest, if such a thing existed.

Now on to the Futureheads. I can't help but think that these guys remind me of The Jam, in many of the same ways so many new bands today remind me of Joy Division. Sure, their harmonies and start-stop song structure make them a unique band, but I'll be danged if their voices aren't quite similar.

As for the set, it was tight and short, covering nearly everything off of their self-titled debut album, with the addition of a new song ("Area Secure" or some such). For the first gig of the tour, everything fell into place. Not too shabby after a wait of several months.

* Paul Weller is still alive.

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Stupid pun of the day

Q: What do you call the feeling you get when you come home from work to find that you've been missing a daylong West Wing marathon?

A: A John Spencer Blues Explosion!

spencer.jpg

Eeh, it was probably a good thing, since too much West Wing could leave me talking way too fast without knowing it. I don't think my friends would like it if they had to powerwalk down a hall to talk to me, either.

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February 21, 2005

A President's Day poem

With federal workers still tucked in their beds
I've got visions of train delays stuck in my head
'cause while the unionized types are free for the day
I'll shower and shave and then earn my pay

The Metro is empty and the trains are spread out
That the whole world's against me there can be no doubt
There's nary a soul on the gray downtown streets
I should be at home, sampling yummy treats.

Oh why don't I quit my pedestrian job
And wait on some tables and feed tourist slobs
The stress would be cut, the exercise nice
It's my goddamn apartment, it comes at a price.

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February 17, 2005

Dumb and Dulles

(File under "Virginia was, is and will continue to be for f*ckers")

The motto of notollincrease.com, the sprawlsluts who are fighting to keep tolls on the Dulles Toll Road at the same level they have been since they opened the road is "Pork out of politics and tolls off the Toll Road."

Huh?

While I applaud the desire of these Loudoun loudmouths to make our system of government Halal, I fail to see how "tolls off the Toll Road" makes sense given that they don't seem to be calling for a full repeal. Maybe that's next. But what would you call the Dulles Toll Road if it didn't have tolls? Maybe The Dulles Sprawlway, or perhaps The Why The Everloving F*ck Can't I Get A Reasonably-Priced Flight Out Of National Because Now I'm Spending More Time Driving To This Exurban Dump Of An Airport Then I'll Spend In The Air Expressway.

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Meet your new media darlings

What has a larger circulation than the Moonie Times and and features Smorgasblog Media Empire holding DCFÜD?

The Express!

Here's the PDF: FÜD is on Page 43.

This and last week's Wonkette shout-out add up to prove that we're on the verge of hitting it big.

When I'm rich from blogging, I want to buy 50 Cent's house since by then, he'll have already blown his fortune on something or other.

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February 16, 2005

Praise the Lord and pass the chalk

Can anyone help me reconcile this

Lawmakers want to amend the state constitution to open schools and other public places to prayer and other religious activities.

Delegate Charles W. Carrico Sr. said the amendment is needed because there is a growing effort to silence Christians.

"I'm tired of hearing when you walk into a school you cannot profess your beliefs because you may offend someone else," the Grayson Republican said.

and this:

It is already legal for Virginia schools to allow time for silent prayer and to allow religious student clubs to meet during non-instructional time.

What's left as a barrier between being an obnoxious fundie seeking to convert and harass all the heathens around you at school? Just being an obnoxious fundie seeking to convert and harass all the heathens around you in class, I guess. Should this pass, would it be constitutionally-protected expression to suddenly roll around on the floor of your shop class babbling in tongues like some church-stadium attendee on TBN? Would you be allowed to toss a bucket of holy water on your biology teacher if he or she made mention of evolution?

There are plenty of very devout people out there who don't feel persecuted because they have to behave according to their roles in different situations. These people can function like the students, teachers, lawyers, dentists or whatever else they are without constantly lapsing into missionary work. In a world where everyone is a preacher, everyone starves.

That being said, let's see a show of hands on taking out the 14th Street Bridge to keep the barbarians on their side of the river.

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One week from today

...you will be furiously shaking your butt at the next bluestate. I have a lot of good stuff lined up for my set (12:15-1:00) -- new stuff, old stuff that's new to you and a few songs that you may have heard of before. It's Saint-Ex, so you can enjoy great beer and a nosh if you arrive before the kitchen closes.

Worried about work on Thursday? Fuggeddaboutit. Everybody at your office will go out on Thursday and you, who chose Wednesday, will be the only one who is the least bit in shape to do any work on Friday, winning you points with the bossman for your chipper demeanor and positive attitude.

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February 15, 2005

Not impressed

I hate when newspapers redesign their websites for no particular reason. It never looks better, just different. And blogs without comments? Big no-no.

But it's still el WaPo.

And I'll still read it.

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Move over Fugazi

There is this guy who will write a song for you on the topic of your choice. Someone requested a song about our subway and the world got this gem, "If the Metro doesn't go there, it doesn't exist" (mp3).

Some lyrics:

"If the Metro don't go there it don't exist
My friends know it's my creed
I'm just a follow going along and Metro is my lead


Living in Washington, DC with no car and
that's fine by me
No parking cares, no insurance, no gas,
just my cup of tea.

Get the Green line to work, the Red line to the
National Zoo
Yellow to the airport , Blue to King Street
and Orange to GMU"

From Songs to Wear Pants To.

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February 14, 2005

Will Smith never sang a song about this place

On my way back from National after a nice weekend in Miami, I spent a few minutes waiting on a surprisingly full Red Line platform at Gallery Place. What were all these upper-middle-aged frumpy women doing on the Metro at 10:45 on a Sunday night?

Then I saw the programs they were carrying.

Yep, they were on the way back from a Yanni gig.

I don't know why that's hilarious, but I think it is.

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February 11, 2005

DC's new favorite game show: Anti-semite/Not Anti-semite

So I'm taking a cab to work today because I'm loaded down with luggage (horray for weekend getaways!) and the cab driver and I are talking about the traffic mess during the inaguration. He says that while he's glad nothing bad happened, the intelligence agencies wouldn't tell us of a threat even if it did exist and they couldn't do anything about it with the quality of data we have.

"Yup, you're absolutely right," I told the driver, who looked and sounded like he could be from somewhere in North Africa, although people tend to look more alike than different when seen from the back.

"You know, before September 11, the Israeli, umm, agency, how do you say?"

Oh cr*p. I've heard stories about cab drivers who freak out passengers with wild conspiracy theories relating to either Bush or the Jews. If those situations make you uncomfortable, you have two options: Shut up and wait patiently until you get to your destination, then stiff on the tip, or actively argue with the man careening down the street in an unsafe late-model American car with you in it. I think you know what I'd do.

"I think you're talking about Mossad," I said, baiting him like the jerk I can sometimes be when I'd rather be asleep.

"Yes, Mossad. If the U.S. had guys like the Mossad out there getting intelligence, none of this would have happened."

Phew. That could have gone a lot worse. Nothing about warning Jews in the WTC, nothing about how bin Laden is an Israeli invention, not even a critique of Israeli falafel. Just a little comparing and contrasting. Needless to say, I arrived safe and he got his tip.

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February 10, 2005

I scream, you scream, we all scream...

...for bobbleheads?

I never thought Drudge would be a source of useful (or truthful) information, but here it is, something I read about and then took advantage of: you can get a Howard Dean Bobblehead doll for a $5 charitable donation and a rendition of his famous Iowa speech (a.k.a. "the day the Democrats learned the downside of unidirectional microphones going straight into the mult box").

Expecting a mob scene, I went down to the Trover Shop bookstore on Pennsylvania Av. SE to find the store mostly empty and only four of the bobbleheads sold, according to the cashier. The Hill probably has the largest concentration of Drudge readers in the country -- does he lack credibility to the point that nobody believed that there would be a Howard Dean bobblehead, or is poor Howie past his merchandise-moving prime?

Anyway, I turned this:
dean1.jpg into dean2.jpg


Walking across the mall, I couldn't help but get a photo of Howard, still in his plastic, worthy of a postcard.

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RedBurb/BlueBurb

Virginia's legislators are on a roll. Well, not a roll, but a hate-pastry of moldy crust filled with the rancid jelly of intolerance.

After working to keep the state (whoops, commonwealth) free of the Visible Underwear Menace, they're moving ahead with gay marriage and school prayer amendments to their constitution, which gets amended more often than "the list" of an AU sorority sister. Then there are the schools, where administrators worry about students catching the gay like it was pinkeye.

Virginia is a big state (whoops, commonwealth) and most of it lies far beyond Dr. Dremos/Pentagon City/Old Town sprawlosphere we visit when forced by circumstance or work. You don't have to go far on I-95 or I-66 to see a place that looks more like Deliverance than American Beauty. OK, you have to go farther and farther as the burbs fan out to where the farms and swamps used to be, but you get my point.

So, when will the state's business leaders at firms like AOL say 'Enough!' and put a stop to this madness for the sake of attracting talented technical workers straight out of colleges where boxers and agnostics weren't taboo?

The truth is, they won't stick their necks out as much as they would elsewhere. The common dichotomy explanation for the D.C. burbs is that Virgina has the "death sciences" companies that contract logistics and technology for the military and Maryland has the "life sciences" around the National Institutes of Health. Many of the larger firms in Virginia have many ex-military employees who aren't too keen on gay neighbors, even if it would mean they could reliably borrow a little cilantro without too much fuss. Demographers and sociologists, including pop-sociologist jerks like David Brooks, have pointed out that highly-qualified computer programmers have options: They can go to the liberal Bay Area or conservative Dallas. Business won't moderate Virginia's rabid right because there is enough of a labor force looking to live in a state (whoops, commonwealth) that reflects their "values."

Since the "underwear bill" became national news, more people are seeing Virginia as just another national embarassment, moving in away from the column of new-line techno-economies like Massachusetts and into culture war backwaters like Alabama, which will still undoubtedly attract people. So around the seat of government, put where it is today as a balance between north and south, we have an increasingly reactionary southern border and a liberal area to the north that will only become more so as people thinking about moving here have an increasingly clear choice about what kind of community they'd like to live in: One where the government is fighting over knickers, and one where it's doing battle on more important issues, like whether the mayor of the state's largest city is having an affair.

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John Kelly is bored out of his skull

Poor columnist. So many column inches, such disjointed inconsequential cr*p to write about.

Somebody should mug this guy, if only to make his metro section ramblings a little more interesting.

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February 9, 2005

Sparkle, sparkle!

Can anyone reccomend a good auto detailer in the area that won't rip me off even though I don't know the first thing about waxes, buffing and whatnot?

My car has been parked outdoors for much of the winter and the salt, combined with some ill-advised snow-removal aides (an apparently scratchy umbrella), have taken their toll. I need some scratches buffed out and the shine returned to my beloved auto's smooth Teutonic curves before I shove it in a garage for a few months. Any reccomendations?

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February 8, 2005

Your Wonderland's a Wonderland

I know I'm the last kid on the block to pay a visit to Wonderland in Columbia Heights, but I think I made amends by showing up last Friday and getting fairly crunk'd. I have to say that I enjoy the place -- nice space, interesting beer list assembled by someone who knows what he/she's talking about, good music and comfy chairs if you get there early enough.

The problem with Wonderland is that it's a bit divey in a neighborhood that is gentrifying like gangbusters. I distinctly remember feeling vaguely menaced getting gas on Harvard Street in 2002 and I was sure I'd be a little freaked walking from the Metro to (gasp) 11th Street. But nearly every house I passed on the way has had hundreds of thousands of dollars poured into it and I didn't encounter any of the neighborhood nastiness one might expect from the press.

But with all this money flowing in to Columbia Heights, will Wonderland be around for very long? Will we have to wait for the messageboard whiners and their ANC enablers to crack the whip on the area's only boozy outpost? The less these busybodies have to worry about crackheads and rats and muggings, the more they will turn to that strange phenomenon that is completely alien to most urban neighborhoods: noise. Witness Adams Morgan residents' battles with Blue Room and other establishments and the bewildering surprise of neighborhood types at the fact that the economic activity that has driven up the price of their assets has come from people visiting the area and spending money.

Of course, this may never happen. As Joel Kotkin noted in the Sunday WaPo, inner-cities are becoming niche communities for the young and childless and the "won't somebody pleeeease think of the children" types are nearly entirely relegated to the suburbs (thank God). Perhaps people live in Columbia Heights because they want to be able to walk to U Street or Adams Morgan or have a Delerium Tremens in the neighborhood with some tattoed people after work.

But when you have active neighborhood people, you'll have an argument about it. On the notorious message board, Wonderland is being compared to El Rinconcito, a bar/restaurant assuredly not frequented by hipsters. Apparently, Wonderland is quieter on the outside, less violent and produces less public urination. An addendum to this is that if you mention that fact, someone somewhere will read it and call you a racist.

I'm starting to get the feeling that if you say anything on that message board, someone will call you a racist.

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February 7, 2005

Obligatory Superbowl post

Let me start off by saying that I'm not a big football fan and like many people, I watch one game all year - the big one. I think baseball is far more interesting and fun to watch, as is basketball, although I haven't followed my beloved Knicks since Patrick Ewing retired and I'm still peeved that in the current wave of re-released old-school sneakers, those Converse blue-and-orange 33s haven't made a comeback.

Anyway, I have only two comments on the Superbowl, neither of which relate to the actual game, which wasn't bad, considering my ambivalence toward the sport.

1. Despite the controversy surrounding last year's halftime show, I'm really glad that the organizers didn't shy away from controversy. Unlike last year, when the "malfunction" was unplanned and didn't serve to advance any particular agenda, the barbs to the squares in the '05 were well-thought out and deliciously subversive. First of all, what better way to sick it to the evangelicals by making the main act 25 percent of a band that was "bigger than Jesus" in its day? Take that, Dobson!

Then, we had "Hey Jude" with thousands of waving chemical glowsticks in the crowd, obviously symbolic of solidarity with the victims of Chemical Glowstick Sodomy at Abu Ghraib. Did you know that glow-in-the-dark aquamarine is the official color of CGS awareness ribbons and wristbands?

2. I cannot tell you the extent to which I hate the announcer's infatuation with Superbowl-specific statistics. It's the 39th Superbowl, which is about as much football as would be played by two teams over three seasons. So why is it such a breakthrough that this is the first time "IN SUPERBOWL HISTORY" that a game has been tied at the beginning of the third quarter? Do you have a large enough sample to start pontificating about whether or not one would expect that to have happened before? What's your confidence interval, you lazy multiply-concussed aging jock? Show me some t-tests and linear regression as to why I should give a rat's ass about the first time someone with a prime uniform number who majored in elementary education has rushed for more than 100 yards and we'll talk.

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February 4, 2005

Takin' it to the street names

While these Columbia residents don't seem to like it, I bet there are a few people out there who would pay a little extra to live on Satan Wood Drive. Certainly beats the dumbass generic street names down here. Even New York, with its numbered grid, manages to eek out some interesting names, like Ganesvoort Street, Maiden Lane and Great Jones Street, which isn't that great except as the title of a Don DeLillo novel.

Anyway, perhaps the only thing that Columbia has going for it is the fact that its street names are long, convoluted and strange as a result of the Rouse Co.'s use of obscure literary references in naming streets when they first built the place on Howard County farmland.

However, since the town's construction in the 1960s, there has been a lot of new literature that hasn't made it on to street signs. If the town expands (oh, it will) the planners should make an effort to update their street-naming canon. I can think of a few people that may want to live on Electric Kool-Aid Acid Blvd. and some more who wouldn't mind settling down in a 3BR ranch on Quidditch Lane. Too high brow? Why not rent an apartment on Avenue for Idiots?

Who says the culture is in decline?

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February 3, 2005

Let the eagle soar

Although I haven't had the opportunity to play with PageMaker (now InDesign) since college, I still consider myself a page layout nerd. As the go-to guy for practical advice on my college paper and the gonzo, try-anything freak in high school (when the software came from a little firm called Aldus), I still pay attention to how newspapers arrange text and graphics on the page.

That's why the newsdesigner.com blog has me foaming like a former D&D freak at the first site of 12-sided dice in two years. They've been flooding the zone checking out the Ex and have noticed something a little strange about the hawkishness of a certain eagle inside the paper.

You sneaky devils!

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February 2, 2005

License too shrill

Virginia legislators, tiring of the lack of progress made in making their state less of a big ol' sh*thole, have decided to expand the ways residents can speak to each other in the only major public forum left that's not owned by a major media conglomerate: staring at the back of other SUVs in crippling traffic.

Thus, we will soon see traditional marrige tags on the state's clogged and unscenic roads to let drivers know when they are behind a Ford Excursion with six children doing their best to distract a harried mother from her navigation from the megachurch to the Boy Scouts for another weekend of homo-free family fun.

Of course, political posturing through pernicious plates is already a thriving hobby across the country, with "Choose Life" tags the pride of abortion crusaders and Wham! fans alike. What are some new tags under consideration in the reactionary commonwealth?

- "Trust-Fund Hill Sluts"
- "No Metro in Loudoun - If You Can't Afford A Car, Stay Out"
- "Evolution And Impaired Driving: Just Theories"
- "Save the Endangered Blowhard"
- "Support Your Local Funeral Pyre"

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February 1, 2005

One state, two state

...brand new bluestate!

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Examining the Examiner

As you may have noticed, we got a new newspaper today, the Examiner, a free daily transplant from San Francisco, where the rents are higher but the buses run more frequently.

Although I usually read Express because nothing gets me informed and ready to start the day like wire copy and snarky photo captions, I picked up a copy of the new rag. The first thing that struck me about the Ex is that they have traffic tips -- lists of possible delays caused by scheduled repairs. If this newspaper is free, people won't pay to get it delivered to their homes. If they don't get it delivered, they're picking it up outside, probably near a train station or bus stop on the way to work. If they drive and they get a copy, they're not going to open it until they reach their destination because you can't read a newspaper and drive, whether it's a tabloid or a broadsheet. I can't see how anybody benefits from traffic reports in a newspaper not designed for reading at home.

Then there is the op-ed section, called "American Conversation." The introductory article, by Editorial page editor "Dave," said the pages would be a little different than traditional sections in terms of layout and article format. Sounds good. What didn't sound good was the introduction to the editorial page's philosophy, which is essentially the stock phrasing of Republican code-words. Unlike the occasionally entertaining Moonie Times, the whole thing seemed more like an apparatchik's ode to Bush rather than the genuine rantings of a mouth-breathing reactionary. The lead editorial: "Hope blossoms where Bush plants democracy."

Gag me with a spoon!

Then send that spoon to Turkmenistan or Saudi Arabia, explaining how Bush made their countries democratic.

Unlike the Moonies, however, there was one token liberal column, a "humor" piece "mocking" Sean Hannity. Not funny. Next!

And don't even get me started on their "Arts" coverage. A review of the new Mannheim Steamroller album? Puh-leeze. The Ex is a boring exurban daily full of wire copy masquerading as an urban free minipaper. Give it up and go to Sterling.

UPDATE: Genius thinks alike, as proven by the fact that DCist posted a story with the same title at about the same time.

UPDATE 2: Apparently there are a lot of people who get this paper at home, against their will. It's still dumb to have a traffic report in the paper, as they're more up-to-date on TV or the radio.

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