Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Is Metro Really the Anti-Christ?

It seems that everytime I turn around there is some blog, some newspaper article, some comment that points out yet another traumatic and disastrous experience on the Metro. Granted, Metro seems to have a lot of problems with its management and giving insanely huge severances to deposed leaders. But seriously, why all the hate for Metro from every which way. There's a weekly Q&A at washingtonpost.com that acts as a bitching session for every conceivable, minute complaint. The way I see it, Metro, even with its limitations, has saved thousands of people a day hours of misery. Seriously, you people would rather sit in traffic every single work day than ride a train car to work every day?! And I'm not even going to include the fact that Metro has created unimaginable wealth for homeowners near the stations, and doubtlessly injected millions upon millions of dollars into this economy. Let's look at some of the ridiculous questions in this weeks Roads and Rails in the Washington Post:

1. Why does Metro HQ keep their lights on at all hours of the day and night? Couldn't they save quite a bit of money if everyone turned off their office lights when they left for the evening?

This is the best you can come up with to complain about? I guess Metro shouldn't employ the use of janitors to clean the office at night? While we're at it, why are we wasting all that electricity to light up spotlights on the Washington Monument. Or does the Capital Dome really need that beacon light at the top of it?

2. Can someone speed up the slllllooow escalators? Compare the Metro escalators to the private ones rights after them in Pentagon City and Chevy Chase Pavillion - they are noticably faster. I'm sure Metro thinks they're just being safe, but certainly the private malls care too - but unlike Metro they also care about serving their customers.

I really can't believe how often I have to read complaints about the escalators. The latest argument is that stairs would be a huge improvement over the escalators. Yet, the most often complaint I hear is that the escalators are broken down too much, adding at least 3-7 seconds to each persons commute. Why would we build the equivalent of a broken escalator into the Metro stations when everyone hates the minimal physical exertion required to walk up the broken escalator? How about this - when you get an escalator in your house, THEN you can start complaining about broken escalators at the Metro station. Until then, walk up the broken escalator, and smile that you've burned off like 1/100th of that double mocha latte. One of my greatest joys during my usually miserable work day is when approaching the exit to my Metro station, seeing three escalators, one going up, one going down, and the middle one broken, and then walking up the completely empty broken one while 900 people crowd in on the working up escalator. When you are a drone pushing paperwork in a futile effort to navigate bureaucracy to do contracts for the Government, small joys like these are appreciated.

As a daily Metro rider, I can deal with the minor inconveniences. When I start comparing my Metro experience to what an actual commute would be on the godawful highways here, I get real thankful. It might be time for people in DC to start worrying about something actually important like the fact that the metro area has murderous, bloodthirsty alpacas roaming the street.

Smoked Out

For a free market economy, the District of Columbia is not seeming too laissez faire. With the new smoking ban going to Congress, businesses in DC are not able to decide for themselves how to conduct their own affairs. I know, I know, it's for the well being of the workforce and all. By the way, find me a bar and grill that has a wait staff/bartending staff where half of the workforce doesn't smoke already. And all that second hand smoke (first rate killer, with at least 1.7 deaths nationwide per forever directly attributed to it) is getting in the way of the DC gliterrati's inebriation by way of alcohol, AKA Liver Elixir (TM). I just can't figure out why some bars don't declare themselves as smoke-free and others make themselves smoke friendly; let us decide what atmosphere we want when we go out that night. Sometimes I just wish DC could be SMART, maybe look at other cities and learn. Go to Charlottesville sometime. Sure they have a lot of smoky, J. Crew overrun, frat tucking, collar popping bars with awful jam band music, but take a look at Zocalo. Zocalo is packed every night, despite the fact that it is smoke free. Tons of people flock there BECAUSE it is smoke-free. If I were a businessman (i.e. if I had enough money to start a hot, trendy new bar), I'd probably try this business plan out for size. If the majority of people really do hate being in a bar with smoke, then the demand should be there for such a smoke free bar. Someone find me an angel investor...

Friday, January 27, 2006

Found a Hidden Gem for Brewdog Pounding

With me not having work tomorrow thanks to the generous Federal government, I convinced my crew to go out tonight. A couple of the guys, interested in meeting up with a couple of ladies, led us to Mr. Days in Clarendon. I can't begin describe the general awfulness there. Let's just say there was no shortage of guys with sweet up-down hairstyles and square toed shoes. Not really my scene there, especially with the 50 cent blaring, oddly juxtaposed with a disco ball and 50 TVs showing the Super Bowl Top 40 players of all time and Alexander Ovechkin's Crib (TM) on Comcast Sports Net. After leaving, we stumbled across the true gem of Clarendon: Jay's Saloon. No trendy Metro DCite would be caught dead here. The cheap wood paneling and formica tabletops give a homey atmosphere. Inside was a low key crowd, seemingly only with the goal of getting wasted. But the thing that sold me on Jay's was hanging on the wall in front of me... three glass wall hangings celebrating one of the greatest arena rock bands of all time (tied with Journey): STYX!!! I was sold. Any bar that could celebrate such earth shattering hits as Lady and Fooling Yourself is A-OK with me. The next time you venture out to the "suburbs" (rouglly 2 miles from the actual DC/Virginia state line), I recommend Jay's. I'm interested in finding other dive bars where, when needed, I can escape the trendy bar scene for a nice, quieter place to pound some brews and catch up with friends. Any suggestions?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Losing weight made cinchy... and delicious

I am going on vacation for the first time since I've started working a few years ago in March. In a girlish effort (the woman tells me I'm being quite the fairy) to drop 10 pounds, I've switched over to Lean Cuisine for lunch and dinner for a while. After about three days, I'm tired of salisbury steak, watery chicken alfredo and 3 nuggets of sesame chicken. I was ready to give up and get back to gorging on Wendy's 99 cent junior bacon cheeseburgers (after all, I just got paid about 200 junior bacon cheeseburgers). This would allow me to be mistaken as a porpoise when I'm on the beach. BUT THEN, I discovered Stouffer's greatest invention since the silver disc that simulates grilling that they include with pizzas: Lean Cuisine Paninis. Seriously, these things are delicious. I would consider buying these at Panera if offered over my beloved Frontega Chicken. I've noticed that my local Giant has been sold out of these for up to a 4 day period (yes, I went back 4 consecutive days trying to buy these). If you do happen to run across this apparently very rare creature, look for the Southwestern Chicken or Chicken Club species. I swear Stouffers isn't paying me for this (although I'd be open to it). I am fairly sure I'd still eat these even if I were an obese man with a taste for lard-sicles and a cool glass of heavy cream.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Metro DC Sewer is as hot as Tyranno-Sore-Ass Hot Sauce

Special thanks to the Washington Post Express for featuring the Metro DC Sewer blog in its Blog Log today. It looks like blogs popularity is spreading like a house devouring California wildfire. Or not. But maybe it'll keep growing in popularity (hopefully the popularity won't peak prematurely and lead this author on a downward Leif Garret-esque slide into drugs, whores and freezer burned Choco-Tacos). It does feel good to know that someone, anyone, is reading this, and hopefully finds these entries somewhere between marginally and mildly amusing or informative.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Osama ruined my condo value?

I've been thinking lately about whether I should buy a condo (since I can't afford a house within 40 miles of DC). All this talk about the DC housing bubble showing initial signs of popping, or at least losing some air has scared me. As it is, it looks like my humble Federal salary will buy me a crappy one bedroom in a crappy condo building. As much as I'd love to live in Penn Quarter or Georgetown or even Clarendon, I think I'm stuck with the more "economically diverse" neighborhoods. I'm looking seriously at the River Place due mainly to its location, even though its a 50 year old building with small square footage (If anyone has any experience with this building, I'd love to hear about it). But then I got to thinking... DC is possibly terrorists' number one target. If they blew up a bomb on the Metro or in DC or pretty much anywhere around here, would that destroy the housing market? Would there be a mass exodus for the relative safety of Loudoun County? Or Bermuda? I'm deathly afraid that I'll take one of these risky ARM or interest only loans, the value will plummet (and I see this as the only thing that's really going to make the market collapse in a flash), and I'll be financially done for (like Eagle Eye Cherry's once glittering career; if only Eagle Eye had saved more than tonight, we would be blessed with more toe-tapping hits). Does anyone else have a take on this real estate terrorism fear, or am I just having first time buyers jitters?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Black(berry) Death

With iPods being passe nowadays, Sony PSP's looking nerdy and cell phones being so yesterday, what will DCites do now to look important AND pass time when their significant other leaves the table for a tinkle break without their Blackberry? As many e-mail addicted yuppies found out today, their beloved Blackberries may be shut down as soon as February. I can't count how many people I see on the Metro repeatedly checking the Blackberry. With the frequency some people I've watched check their e-mails, it makes me wonder if that person is really Donald Rumsfeld in a 26 year old J. Crew and Burberry scarf clad disguise monitoring up to the second updates in Iraq. In all likelihood, it's someone checking to see what the latest hilarious forwarded Top 10 blonde jokes are. Mustn't let that gem sit in the inbox overnight... At least the feds get to keep their Crackberries. Not that I could ever get issued one (stupid high security environment). Maybe that's why I'm always bitter when I see them used. So jealous.

Buy American?

Ford, did you really think America would keep buying Explorers and Expeditions at the level they were, forever?!?! Here's a tip: MAKE CARS AMERICANS WANT TO BUY THAT DON'T BREAK DOWN AND DON'T LOOK LIKE WHAT MY GRANDPARENTS/POLICE DEPARTMENT WOULD BUY. Also, I feel bad for all the people losing their jobs today because of gross mismanagement by their company's executives.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

You Can Take Away My Drinking Games, But You Can't Take Away My Fun

Dr. Dremo's has been through a tough past few months. First, John Law cracked down on the bar's biggest selling point: ample drinking games, specifically Beirut (or as it's often incorrectly called, Beer Pong). Next, its landlord decided to sell the land to satisfy Arlington's insatiable urge to build ANOTHER high-rise condo. Because I know Arlington doesn't have nearly enough of those being built right now. Since the ban on drinking games, I haven't really been to Dr. Dremo's thinking it was in its last death throes and would be virtually empty. How many people would really want to go to a decrepit looking bar that serves only beer and has pool? Was I wrong or what. Last night, after deciding that Georgetown's win over Duke would cause the greater Georgetown area to be a madhouse full of annoying fans and drunken college students talking about a national championship. So the original plans to hit up Garrett's or the Guards was done. The decision was made to give Dr. Dremo's another try. This turned out to be a great decision, on the caliber of me betting a parlay of Seattle and Pittsburgh today. Dremo's was packed, had a band, and a good time was had by all. After pounding some brewdogs, we played some pool and scouted the terrain. A quick note for the ladies out there: if you're not going to wear a bra and you're going to wear a very low cut shirt, keep in mind that if you play pool, we'll probably be able to see some nipple when you take your shot (like 8 times). Especially if you have areoli that resemble a dinner plate. There were a surprising amount of women at Dremo's, allowing me to play wingman for my hopeless friends. After that series of crushing failures, it was determined that a return visit to Dremo's was in order in the future. I just hope that these condo plans fall through and the bar can stay in business for a while longer. If not, at least Arlington has another high rise condo and maybe a TGI Friday's or Applebee's that will get built on that lot. On an unrelated note, I keep seeing the 3-course TGIF ad on TV showing that if you order a TGIF 3-course meal, hot girls and new friends will gather around your table and a crazy night of debauchery will ensue. I intend to test this out. God knows parties love following an appetizer plate of fried mozzerella, a TGIF burger, and a poor rendition of cheesecake. I think I read this somewhere... perhaps US News and World Report. Anyways, TGIF can expect a lawsuit from me if a party on the scale of Paris Hilton's Sex Video Release Party doesn't materialize at my table.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Trafficking in Misery

I hate traffic pretty much more than anything else. To illustrate this, I would rather comb and braid Jon Lovitz's back hair than sit on I-66 in gridlock... and that isn't because I respect and enjoy Lovitz's work in the acclaimed High School High. It's more because traffic is miserable in this area. I would think that an area so linked with the government would be able to secure better planners, more money and more action. Especially if any of these lawmakers have to actually drive on these roads back to their estates in Great Falls. I read today in the Post that Governor Kaine is actually trying to raise money to enact some common sense, and even innovative (the toll lane to pass traffic), solutions. I have trouble believing people that drive an iota here would oppose this. I for one am perfectly willing to pay a little more on my car insurance, and even in my sales tax. I don't even want to estimate how much money I've blown on gas that was burned while I went 1.6 mph on I-95. Thank god I can take metro to work now, I'm not sure I could have tolerated another day of wasting an hour each commute home at the Toll Road/I-66E merge.

On a semi-unrelated note, is there a worse song than "My Hump" by Black Eyed Peas. I've probably heard it at least 50 times in the past week on XM while sitting in aforementioned traffic. It reminds me of my childhood baseball card collecting twilight zone; repeatedly opening packs of cards hoping/praying/demanding that I lucked out and got a special foil embossed Tony Gwynn card, only to REPEATEDLY pull Dave Hansen. Seriously, I must have 15 Dave Hansen cards lying in a box somewhere. Damn you Dave Hansen and your career .260 average. Damn you to hell sitting at Exit 44 on I-66. Anyways "My Humps"' lyrics bring back memories for me of the all time worst written song, "Summer Girls" by the immortal LFO. Perhaps this snippet will jog your memory of this masterpiece:

Your the best girl that I ever did see,
The great Larry Bird Jersey 33
When you take a sip you buzz like a hornet
Billy Shakespere wrote a whole bunch of sonnets
Call me Willy Whistle cause I can't speak baby

At least LFO didn't take themselves very seriously (it seemed, although I may be crushing their literary egos if they run across this blog by some coincidence). Black Eyed Peas seems to think they are a great, progressive, cutting edge band. The only thing cutting edge about "My Humps" is the knife blade I'll use to slice my ears off if I hear it again. Others agree with this, as "My Humps" was awarded Worst Song of the Year by Dr. David Thorpe from Something Awful.com.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Start buying up Columbia Pike property now!!!

As some may have gathered, I don't live in the District proper. I live 1 mile from the 14th Street Bridge right next to the Navy Annex on Columbia Pike in Arlington. When I first moved to Columbia Pike, I thought it was real dicey and possibly dangerous. It definitely looked a lot different from Fair Lakes where my previous apartment was. Less Applebees, more Salvadorean restaurants. But it had charm. As the old downtown of Arlington (before gentrification moved it to the Orange Line corridor), it has some unique buildings, the Cinema and Drafthouse, and unique restaurants (2 on the Washingtonian Top 100!). I always thought, if they could just clean this place up it could be a hot neighborhood. Well that day may be coming. The Washington Post recently covered some of the new plans for this area in an article on Sunday. Mainly, they are going to put in TROLLEYS!!! It's the poor man's Metro! I guess this has been tried in Portland and it worked great:

"Over time, the Portland transit remodeling proved a huge success, ushering in more than $2 billion in mixed-use development along the city's streetcar line and enhancing the city's vitality."

I know a lot of people that just aren't willing to take the bus because of the image related to it. I really think putting trolleys in is going to spur development. I just may buy a place on the Pike and watch the value triple. Or I'll just keep waiting for the Columbia Center Condo to FINALLY start construction.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I'll miss why.i.hate.dc

Is anyone else as sad as me that James from why.i.hate.dc is moving? I mean, I'm happy for him that he's moving to the West coast (i.e. the best coast). I could only wish that I was moving back home to San Diego. But no other blogger has made me laugh as much as him, or made me say "I feel the EXACT same way" as much as him. If I weren't so lazy (my lack of writing talent not withstanding), I'd write up an essay and try and take over his site.

James, you will be missed by those of us fed up with all the problems in this area. I hope whoever takes it over will be as totally sweet.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Frattiness can be hazardous to your health

It seems that whenever my friends and I get together to go out, it turns into a reliving of our cherished frat days. But, instead of it only happening maybe once or twice a year for homecoming or alumni reunion weekend, it happens several times a week. To celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day (MLK is A-OK), we headed out to Clarendon Ballroom on Sunday night. Unfortunately, the Clarendon Ballroom did not feel it was necessary to stay open and serve us alcohol (they must be haters of the social and economic advances made by African Americans thanks to MLK). So, we headed to Whitlows. Long story short, we pounded brewdogs to the point of inebriation. The next part of the story is a key lesson for all of you (in less crude terms than the real life occurrence): do your due diligence before inferring that a girl you meet may be a prostitute. As we are walking back to my friend's house, my most inebriated friend spots a provocatively dressed young lady with a guy accompanying her. Thinking it funny, he remarks "Have fun with your whore". Granted, this wasn't his best attempt at making a funny. Predictably, the guy responds with an angry "What did you say?!". Things escalate (without ever actually escalating to an actual fight, which seems to be the norm once you leave school), and the guy says "I should kill you for calling my sister a whore". Yikes. Since no one actually wanted to punch anyone, things settled down and we went home. After getting a nice round of rousing laughter at my friend's stupidity. I guess we learned our lesson that drinking is bad. Except, I'm sure there is brewdog pounding planned for 24 tonight.

I think Jack Bauer might be the only guy I'd ever consider going gay for. FYI, he's already killed 4 people in the first episode.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Restaurant Week Wrap-Up: Living the High Life

Usually living the high life for me is more Champagne of Beers than Steve Winwood's immortal song "Back in the High Life". But, during DC's restaurant week, I can feel like a high roller or a big shot power broker. I know a lot of people complain abou this week: saying the waiters are meaner, service suffers, the food takes a hit. But how else is a mid-level Federal chump like me going to eat at the Four Seasons in Georgetown on a non-special occasion night? Besides, I still contend that if you choose your restaurant wisely, even a watered down 4 star meal at some of the super premium DC restaurants is a great value for the $30.06. So, accompanied by my lovely girlfriend, we set out for Seasons in Georgetown (or is it in Foggy Bottom) for dinner on Saturday night. The night may have started poorly when I chose to wear a lime green shirt with an unmatching striped lime green and blue tie. Nevertheless, at least I wore a tie. Or at least that's how I defended it to my girlfriend. I could have just as easily tried to personify what I assume the stuffy waiters at these restaurants view the Restaurant Weekers that file in as by wearing my Vista Soccer Club Coach T-shirt and some baggy cargo pants. I took the high road as you can see.

Anyways, the dinner was delicious. I ordered Beef Burgundy, my girlfriend ordered the Rockfish. We both thoroughly enjoyed it. I also got caught by the waiter sopping up the sauce with the remainder of our bread. Unfortunately this was cut short by a cold "I'll take that plate out of your way sir." Our dinner was also made more entertaining by the table behind us. Two mid-20's guys with 2 mid-20's girls, possibly on a double date. Possibly on a double first date. We couldn't help but listen to some of their conversation. I classify the talkative mid 20's guy as what I view as a typical DC Congressional staffer jerk. He naturally talked about his super sweet meetings he had with [insert name-drop here] that most likely consisted of him saying "Here is the report you asked me to pull up on Lexis-Nexis Mr. [insert name-drop here]". The true highlight was when one of the girls excused herself to go to the bathroom. She leans down to pick up her purse, and DC Congressional staffer jerk says "Hey, I can see your thong. It's pink [cackle]." As she walks away looking stupefied, he lets out a quite audible "Whore." I started laughing, my girlfriend glared, but I found that to be hilarious.

To sum it up, DC Restaurant Week was a success for us. We got a great meal and some dinner theater for the princely sum of $30.06 each. People may complain about how some restaurants handle this week, but sometimes you get what you pay for. And its at least a week where we don't have to hit up one of the eight million chain restaurants here.

The DC Area's HOT new blog!

After reading a bevy of the DC area blogs for the past two years, I started wondering... Do these bloggers live in the same reality as me?! Do they really go out five times a week, hitting up the hottest hottest DC nightlife opportunities? Considering most people that live in this area are Federal employees, or even a Federal contractor, how can they live like this. I decided that this gap in coverage is where I needed to come in. To represent the everyman resident that lives here. The type of person that doesn't know how or if they'll ever be able to afford a house on a Government salary. The type of person that cares a bit about politics but doesn't make it their life. The type of person that actually likes hitting up dive bars, and maybe has been guilty of asking if Natty Light or PBR is served there. The type of person that was crushed when Dr. Dremo's had to stop allowing Beirut to be played. The goal of this blog will be to reflect life here from a normal, average salaried, few years out of a small Virginia liberal arts university, likes to go out on weekends, loves football but hates the Redskins metropolitan DC resident.