Jun 03

An Open Letter to the District of Columbia

Dear DC,

DC_flagHey there my friend. Just wanted to thank you for all the incredible times we’ve had over the years. Since arriving in town at what seems to have been immediately following the War of 1812, you have been a great host and a roommate for me. This Jersey-born, PA-rooted, and NH-grown kid was able to call The District of Columbia home… and it was an absolutely great time being there all these years.

Times are never 100% perfect, I know. Like when that madman and son we running around you as two deranged snipers and the fear it cause? But even in the midst of such madness, you saw us through.

Just a maddening,  but certainly less physical danger (one might argue) is the steady stream of politicians who somehow get elected and crash at your place. Too often they promise to “fix” you – a phrase get gets them here, but too often gets turned into “let’s find a way to keep you broken, cuz it keeps me elected.”  Always mildly ironic to me that this “broken” city has always been under the thumb of congressional control, yet hasn’t really progressed in many ways because of that group of misfits thinking “they” know better than “us.” But even then, you kept on keepin’ on.

You protected me from  hurricanes named Sandy and another called Irene, a Snowmageddon  in 2010, a earthquake that many of my west coast friends made fun of us for reacting to like it was the beginning of the end like the Mayan promised, and countless day to “DC skillet” heat in the summer. You celebrated spring each year with Cherry Blossoms; you welcomed the fall with a Drag Race.  Each of the four seasons brought me some amazing things to do and see, and I can’t thank you enough for the diverse menu of goodness you brought to the table.

You do have some great stops for tourist-central. Your National Mall and the monuments and Smithsonians that dot the landscape – and believe me those were oh so fun always to bring people to whenever family and friends called up Cafe DK for a reservation.  But I will always appreciate the “real” Washington monuments. The neighborhoods and the people who made up the living breathing city I love. Ben’s Chili Bowl, The Big Chair of Anacostia; the Spanish Steps;  Eastern Market; my awesome family run bagel shop on P Street called, of course, “Bagels Etc.”; the Exorcist Steps in Georgetown; the 9:30 Club, the SW Waterfront, the old Bayou of Georgetown; and most importantly my neighborhood of Dupont Circle.

What makes a city like Washington so wonderful to be in? Like most cities, it isn’t what you see on the brochures or the tours… it’s the smaller, intimate spots. The character-defining places and faces that drive that spirit of community.  Yes, I was able to experience a number of amazing national moment in an unique setting. Things like  Presidential Inaugurations (5 of them), the opening of both the WWII & FDR Memorials, and the passing & viewing of President Ronald Reagan at the Capitol Rotunda. Being a witness to these historic markers in history (like the absolutely inspiring inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2008) was indeed a privilege and an honor. Thanks DC for letting me be a part of those special moments as a residence in your care.

But while I have you here, allow me a couple of suggestions for you as you head into 2014 and beyond. Kind of like when I gave a few “Little DC Tips from DK,” these are just some things to put into the District Idea Box for later:

1. Don’t forget to tout your communities, not just your national monuments – DC is WAY more than a group of museums, a Capitol, a nice White House, and a Mall. It’s people. Never forget your best asset are those who your spot home.

2. Metro, I love you, but please keep working to get yourself stronger – The subway system that travels all around you is fantastic…. but it is still a hot mess more often than it should be. You are lucky in the fact that it is such a good overall people mover – I mean can you imagine the traffic without a metro?! It’s bad enough with it! But really, DC, don’t let it fall apart. Issues happen, but don’t become a busted eyesore. Remember, most people see you by way of Metro… it’s your tour guide on tracks.

3. Pizza – C’mon my friend. Gourmet pizzas are fun for lost of nights out with friends and vino. But a good pizza shop? Just one good place for good ‘ol slice… and no, the late night “Jumbo Slices” do not count (that’s 4am goodness, not regular day goodness… you drunk.)

4. Keep those chains at bay – Even Will Farrell like to spend a Saturday at Home Depot (maybe Bed, Bath & Beyond, only if there’s time) but the soul of a city are the local merchants and shop owners. Embrace your opportunity to have a place that shops local and supports local. I’ll take Kramerbooks & Afterworks over any chain restaurant any day.

5. Where’s the Franklin Pierce Monument? – Shoutout to my NH brothas and sistas.. .plus the Pierce Brigade, PA Chapter.

6. Marion Barry – Wow. Words don’t do it justice.

7. Get an statue up for Chuck Brown, the Godfather of Go-Go….. NOW.

DC, you have been a great friend. I’m gonna miss our times sitting out on the deck looking over Rock Creek Park, watching everything from The Space Shuttle’s final flight to the annual Capital Pride Parade…and all the nights of nothing but watching you and your residence interacting, everyday life & buzz.  And thanks for my super secret spot, where I got a combo of historical momument and a quiet place in the heart of the city to read & write (you know where I’m talking about, right?)…. Thanks for all the memories, DC. I’ll always have you as a part of me, and I’m proud to have been a Washingtonian… Cheers… ~DK

PS…. oh, and don’t mind Sidney telling people to stay away from Dupont Circle in The American President. She was just acting. It’s a GREAT place to go.

DC_flag2Justitia Omnibus

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