Thursday, December 14, 2006

Washington on a Bad Day

Even on a bad day in Washington, when it is raining and traffic is at a stand still all over town, and grumpy bureaucrats are arriving late at every FOB, and my car just got another ticket for being parked on the wrong side of the street, and I received an inexplicable summons via certified mail from some obscure DC office that regulates trash cans that I know will only be resolved after a maddening descent into the Kafkaesque bowels of the DC bureaucracy, even on a day like that, I’m glad I live in Washington.

Washington is not Paris, and certainly it’s nothing like Paris between the wars, when you could pay for drinks with a short story and live for years on what you could make fishing in the Seine. Paris isn’t even like Paris anymore. Maybe Paris is better, but Washington, even on a bad day, is a great place for a writer to live. At least for this writer. I need people around me, traffic noises, art, culture, beauty. I need the LOC, the art museums, the literary readings, the Belgian beer, chili and waffles and collard greens, the liquor stores on every corner. I don’t wish to be cut off in a cul-de-sac where I never see another human being walking past my window. Washington is a human city, both in scale and attitude. I’ve started this blog to explore these kinds of ideas: the writing life, but the writing life in Washington in particular.

People might disagree with me about Washington (or with my views on writing). Good for them. They are right. For them. And I’m right for me. I’d rather be in Washington than anywhere else in the country. (And I’d rather read the books I read and write the way I write than do anything else.) Parking tickets are cheap compared to the slow and steady decay of one’s soul that comes from living anywhere else.

This isn’t really my first blog ever. I did a guest blog for my friend ArJewTino a while back that got picked up by Wonkette, much to ArJewTino’s dismay. That had always been his dream, to get a nod from Wonkette, and I beat him to it. I haven’t followed through on my promises to post reviews of reviews for every restaurant I’ve never been to; there’s so many, it’s a daunting task. But it kind of goes along with the theme of this blog: daunting tasks and snacks. Unfortunately, I think Hemingway was wrong: Paris is not a moveable feast; it's a feast alright, but when you leave, the feast stays there. And Washington is barely a snack, but it's the best I've got.

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