A while back I submitted a column about why I believed New York City was overrated. Needless to say, I ruffled a few feathers over that one. Tough. But maybe I came down too hard on New York City since I’ve been there so many times that I shook off the initial awe. It may be overrated to me, but it’s not necessarily the poster child of being overrated. That honor goes to Washington, D.C. I know I’m going to cause some butt puckering on this one, but it has to be said.
Again, make sure you pay attention to my wording. Like the New York piece, this isn’t a column that says, “Washington, D.C. sucks.” I’m using the term “overrated” because while it is a fine city, it is way overhyped. It definitely doesn’t help that when D.C. people talk about why they love D.C., they talk to you like you’re from Somalia or Afghanistan, as if you have never experienced civilization before. It’s a nature versus nurture thing. People who grew up in the D.C./NoVa/MD bubble grew up in such expensive areas they assume everywhere else is a garbage heap. In the words of a friend, “So much privilege they’re naturals to become social justice warriors.”
So when someone talks about why they love D.C., what’s one of the first things they talk about? Brunch. “Oh my goodness the brunch scene *heart eye emoji*!!!” I had a good laugh at a joke that D.C. was melting down over Trump because they were scared he’d destroy D.C. culture by banning brunch. They tell you how people jog up with their dogs and have bottomless mimosas with their friends for hours and hours and blah and blah and blah. Cool story, I saw that last Sunday at my favorite brunch place in Brookhaven and probably paid 30% less than you did. People be brunchin’, am I right? In fact, since brunch is trendy now, every major city has a handful of great brunch places and frankly eggs Benedict and bottomless mimosas are tough to mess up. I don’t know how you could possibly enhance brunch beyond the phenomenon it has become in every major city. Like I said, the scene is probably one of the best in the country, but it doesn’t make other brunch scenes incomparable.
Okay, so I’m not impressed by the brunch scene. What about the great American monuments? The great symbols of American exceptionalism, balance of power, Constitutional rights, and representative government? Well, from a partisan perspective I can say it’s depressing that the great Americans who designed and built those monuments are turning in their graves. From a non-political perspective, I would expect the great monuments of our nation’s capital to be on par with those of the other great historical cities of the world, and they are beautiful. They’re about what you’d expect, and touring the monuments is probably a one to two day event. It’s about equally impressive to seeing Manhattan from across the Hudson River or seeing the Santa Monica Mountains from the Santa Monica Pier. And as someone who loves history, most monuments get old after a while. The newness wears off.
Finally, it’s too expensive. It’s as bad, if not worse, than New York City. Once you get past what I like to call the “tourist aspects,” like sightseeing and experiencing the unique culture and local restaurants, you’re basically living in an overpriced, well, Atlanta. Sure, it’s the nation’s capital, and every nation’s capital and major metropolis has high costs of living, but the fact remains. As someone who has several transplant friends living in the D.C. area for work, once you get past the initial touristy awe it’s, as I mentioned earlier, an extremely expensive Atlanta. Shocked that The Rent is Too Damn High Party hasn’t gained traction in the D.C. metro area. You shouldn’t have to live with three other people in your early thirties unless it’s a spouse and children.
All that said, D.C. is a great place to visit if you have never been or if you have a reason to go. Otherwise, you take your political or government contractor job and hope you make enough to live a reasonable quality of life.
Hopefully this article is published before I head up next month as I’m sure the city will be happy to see me..
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