“I’M GONNA GO TO THE WHITE HOUSE AND PAINT IT BLACK”– Mike Ness, Social Distortion (Don’t Drag Me Down)…. waaaayyy before Obama was elected.
I have a love / hate relationship with Washington D.C. It was the first city I ever visited via airplane many, many years ago as a young(er) guy trying to get my start in the media business (then it was radio). I was fascinated by the city… hell, I was fascinated by getting on an airplane and checking luggage. No shoe removal required at that time. It was great.
Some local radio guys I had met at my training took me to the then edgy, slightly sketchy area of town called “Adams Morgan” and to a basement bar called “Hell”. I was excited because there had just been a riot in Adams Morgan the year before. This was edgy stuff and I sure wasn’t in boring old Tennessee anymore! The guys filled me with stories of kidnapping, robbery and all sorts of evil that could befall me if I walked around Adams Morgan alone late at night. I’m not sure if they were just exaggerating the truth or completely messing with this young and green “hayseed” from Tennessee.
Since that first trip I’ve been to DC plenty of times since and have had a mixed bag of experiences.
I once was called to testify before a congressional subcommittee on “Latino under representation in the Media”. I prepared for 2 weeks prior on the presentation because it was a subject I was well versed and felt strongly about. I was struggling to get my own Latino themed programs distributed to big, corporate owned network affiliates like Tribune (which later went bankrupt due to mismanagement), NBC and good old Rupert Murdoch’s Fox. Though eventually, we’d break down those walls and get on almost all of those affiliates, it was harder than it should have been given the demographic data at the time and we NEVER got to crack a real TV station in DC, having to satisfy ourselves with some low power station few could see.
At the hearing, I was maybe 25% through my 20 minute presentation when I was suddenly stopped by the congressman running the proceedings. He said my time had expired! Time limit? No one had informed me of a time limit. The idiot government bureaucrats who had invited me had told me NOTHING but the subject matter and gave me no guidance whatsoever, much less informed me of a 5 minute time limit. So much for my big moment hoping to change big media’s consolidated grip on power in our country… ha. ha! Two weeks of my time wasted by MY government. What else is new?
Another time I drove from NYC down through Baltimore and was promptly greeted at the DC city limits by a flurry of people flipping me off on the roadway. Now I’m not the best driver in the world, but I’m not the worst either (I’ve driven all over the world in ridiculously disorganized 3rd world countries AND Los Angeles). There was no cause for that. I think it had something to do with the word “Latino” which was branded on my vehicle (the name of my show was branded on the car) which pissed the other minorities off as they see ethnicity, not as a thing of pride or just a fact of life, but something to be traded on for profit and power. Maybe they thought I represented an infringement on their sacred territory. Or maybe its just just angry, angry people who live in D.C. or maybe I’m a bad driver and didn’t realize it until I hit the DC shitty limits? who knows?
Stupid shit happens in D.C. so I guess it makes people there angry. People come to DC for a lot of reasons. Many are lawyers… the place is crawling with lawyers. It’s obviously crawling with politicians as well.Not much good can come from that. And it’s crawling with, God bless them, immigrants. Which, like LA and NYC, is probably the one thing that saves D.C. from burning up in a wrathful hell fire blaze sent from above.
That and punk music. The DC area is home to Henry Rollins and Minor Threat, Bad Brains, the straight edge scene.. and many, many more, DC’s punk history is legendary. What’s going on there now? I couldn’t really tell you. But I’ll be there for 3 days. If someone reading this wants to fill me in, I’ll have my camera and it ain’t to take pictures of the White House or the cracked up Washington Monument or the Cherry Blossoms in bloom 3 weeks early courtesy of a little thing called Global Warming.
Hit me up. Show me another reason to love D.C. because I have to be honest with you, at the present moment my love/hate relationship is leaning a lot more towards hate these days.