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You would vote for Chuck Brown for President. You have noticed that many of your fellow Washingtonians live their lives in a state of cognitive dissonance. You think the term “NoMa” is dumb—and it’s a fair point. Say “NoMa” a few times. It sounds stupid in your mouth. One entrant “personally loathe[s]” the recently invented neighborhood name. 

When City Paper first held this contest back in 2017, a few of you wrote full-on love poems about what it means to be “so D.C.” This year most of you were quick, to the point, and often pissed.  

One person says you’re so D.C. if you’re “a self involved douche.” Another writes that you’re so D.C. if you’re “a loser. D.C. sucks and it’s boring.” (The person who submitted that entry goes by the pen name “Fuck DC” and entered the address “ihatedc@cantwaitomove.com,” which, we confirmed, is not a real email address.)

But the silver lining is thick. You identified the little quirks that have long been at the backs of our D.C. minds, like the mystery of why you have an actual collection of Miss Pixie’s pens, and how to deal with the fact that our downtown sports arena, and its basketball team, undergo repeated name changes. 

You have lovely memories of a different era of retail—getting new Easter outfits and back-to-school clothes downtown, seeing the enchanting department store displays at Christmas, eating out after a day of shopping with family.

The City Paper newsroom was unabashed about its favorite entry: “You are so D.C. if you intuitively know that Darrow Montgomery is the best damn photographer in the city.” A reader who goes by Ron wrote that entry. Thank you, Ron. We agree!

We set aside the navel-gazing for the final vote, sorting through hundreds of name-blind entries to find the most pithy, honest answers to the question of what makes a person so D.C. in 2019. We also read the whole collection for themes. Almost all of the obvious ones came up—you really love mumbo sauce and go-go; you call the local airport National or DCA; you know how to walk on the Metro escalators—but we can’t print the same thing every time we run this contest, so we left out the escalators, the sauce, and the airport, and kept a collection about go-go, which had a big year.  

This year, many of you have memories of New York Avenue on your mind, and of the old hospitals. Your feelings on the present—the scooters, and navigating a city with a few more Republicans—are far less warm. We wonder what today’s D.C. will look like to contest entrants in 2040 or 2050. —Alexa Mills

First Place

The line for lunch is longer than your lunch break. —Annie

Second Place

You notice that pink Miss Pixie’s pens are literally everywhere and you wonder how that is even possible. —Josh Gibson

Third Place

You’ve thrown an electric scooter into the Tidal Basin. —Thomas Philibin

Fourth Place

You not only refer to Councilmembers by their first names, but do the same with your local ANCs. —Nechama Masliansky

Fifth Place

You think international travel is a normal hobby—and a personality. —Anonymous

Sixth Place

The fact that none of the Golden Triangle haikus follow the 5-7-5 format makes you want to scream. —Nicole Siegel 

Seventh Place

You can respect the genius of Marion Barry and gloss over the crazy. —Kathy Haines

Eighth Place

You complain about the new condos going up across the street from the condo you just bought. —Sean 

Ninth Place

You don’t know how to handle driving/walking/existing in the snow because the city would be completely shut down after 1-2 inches of snow. —Ryan Laychak

Tenth Place

You take the treadmill in front of the television playing Fox News, because it’s always available. —Anonymous

Runners Up

Your opening line on OKCupid is: “Would you hold it against me if I told you I work at the Heritage Foundation?” (True story.) —Anonymous

You think this list is some corny bs to make new white residents feel cool about living in D.C. —Two Gram Greg

You’re wondering if the reporters who are judging this are old enough and “worthy enough” to judge the authenticity of D.C.-ness. —Anonymous

You remember how nice it was before Homeland Security. —Christine Saunderson

You sit on your porch or stoop and speak to people walking by. —Biscuit 

Geography Lessons

You grew up on K Street, but don’t know where or what the fuck is a NoMa. —Stephanie

You would never live near the old Greyhound station, but you still don’t understand what a NoMa is. —Adar

You hate the label “AdMo” for Adams Morgan. LOL. —Stephen McKevitt

You know how to navigate Rock Creek Park without Google Maps. —Tracey Williams Barnett, Realtor

You are familiar with two of the city’s iconic landmarks, the Shrimp Boat in Northeast and the Big Chair in Anacostia. —James Kennedy

You rode the 32 bus on Pennsylvania Avenue past the White House before they closed it off from traffic. —Bruce Holliday

You hate when people from Maryland or Virginia say they’re from D.C., especially when they actively complain about the city. —Anonymous

A District of Cognitive Dissonance

You’re a registered Democrat who hopes for a public health care option, yet you happily work for a company that lobbies against it. —Anonymous

You live in a constant state of cognitive dissonance as a result of your email marketing job at a defense contractor responsible for blowing up schoolchildren in the Middle East. —Rob

You say things like, “This neighborhood looked very different 10 years ago,” even if you never saw it 10 years ago. —Anonymous

You have chicken and waffles for brunch immediately after taking your Sunday morning yoga class. —Katie Crowe

You hate Bird scooters, yet own an electric bike. You love U Street, but don’t know where the Shaw neighborhood is located. You tweet about your excitement for Trader’s opening in AdMo, while you’ve eaten out every night this week. —Amanda Farnan

You complain about e-scooters while riding an e-scooter. —Adam Taylor

The Scooters

You complain about the scooters being left haphazardly on the sidewalk at happy hour and then grip those Lime handlebars on the way home, blazer flapping in the wind. —Shannon

You’re tired of trippin’ over unattended scooters. —SoSEDC

You refuse to use any motorized shared transportation options (scooters, jump bikes and mopeds). —Julie Karant

You own your bike but still use an electric scooter or have a shared bike membership. —Etta Klosi

You secretly love to ride the scooters. —Steven Rigaux

You ride doubled up on a scooter. —Calder Stembel

Old New York Ave

You remember how exciting it used to be to drive down New York Ave. and see the parade of pimps and hoes. —Tracey Williams Barnett, Realtor 

You remember when U Street didn’t go all the way to New York Ave. It was blocked at 7th with big concrete barriers. —Wanda

You took a Greyhound bus from New York Ave. —Mike Rhode

You were frightened seeing white folk jogging on New York Ave. —Rob Evans

You can’t believe they’re (probably) closing the Wendy’s on New York Ave. —SoSEDC

You remember the Black Hole, the original location of the Convention Center, and can recall how the old New York Ave. was and the original Mass Ave. before it was renamed “NoMa” (which I personally loathe). —Anonymous

The Old Stores

When you were growing up, your parents bought you clothes and other essentials at Woolworths, Morton’s, Hecht’s, Woodies, Garfinckel’s, Hahn’s Shoes, and Peoples Drug Stores. —Doxie McCoy

You remember Peoples and Dart Drug stores. —Maria

You still call it Peoples Drug Store. —Kate

You still call Macy’s Hecht’s. —Doxie McCoy

You remember when Macy’s downtown was a Hecht’s. —Corina Garay 

You know that The Hamilton was Garfinckel’s long before it was Borders Books. —Mary Knieser

You still say Fresh Fields when you mean Whole Foods and Peoples when you mean CVS. —Rick Chessen

You sat on Santa’s lap in Hecht’s, your first shoes came from Hahn’s, you know who Pick Temple is, and you had a strawberry shortcake from the Blue Mirror while wearing your new suit from Morton’s. —Ernest Earl Wood

You got your back-to-school clothes at Morton’s, bought a 10-cent hot dog at Ann’s Hot Dog or a steak and cheese sub at Miles’-long, and rode the B2 bus to Barney Circle. And don’t forget that 45 record you bought at Waxie Maxie’s. —Earl Wood

You shopped at Waxie Maxie’s. —Eric Rogers

You remember having your medications delivered to you from Morgan Pharmacy. —Anonymous

You remember having milkshakes at the fountain at Morgan Pharmacy. —Anonymous 

You used to go Easter suit shopping at Cavalier’s, Mortons, or Woodies. —Eric R. 

Christmas meant watching the moving displays in the department stores, and some smaller shops downtown. Beautiful, fun, and serene scenes. I wish they could bring those back. —Waldon Adams

You fondly remember the downtown Garfinckel’s and Woodies department stores and really miss the golden years of WHFS. —Lawrence Impett

You remember Woodward & Lothrop department store downtown—both buildings. —Waldon Adams

Go-Go City

You went to the go-go at the Cherry’s skating rink. —Anonymous 

Your body subconsciously starts moving the moment you hear the beginning of some go-go music. —Anonymous

You play old-school go-go music on Chuck Brown’s birthday. —Andrew Webster

You would vote for Chuck Brown as President of the United States. —Kareem

You go to go-go night at Lucky Strike. —Tamara Chin

You were pissed when they tried to mute go-go at MetroPCS. —Matt G

D.C. made you proud when the Moechella protest shut down 14th and U streets, and peacefully. #DontMuteDC —Tracey Williams Barnett, Realtor

You attended all #DontMuteDC events proudly, and know and feel the effects and appreciate the true meaning behind it. —Sisco

Name Game

You still refer to the Capital One Arena as the MCI Center. —Corina Garay 

You call the Capital One Arena the Verizon Center, the MCI Center, or even better, use two or three of these labels in one sentence because you can’t actually remember what it’s called. —Gwen Dobbs

You’ve realized we can go back to calling it the Cap Center. —Michael Robbins

You remember that the basketball team was named the Bullets but renamed to the Wizards because we were the murder capital of the country. —Gwen Dobbs

You attend a Wizards game every season to see your old hometown team as the away team. —Jesse Rifkin


You forgot a person’s name so you use the substitute or place holder: Moe. For example: Crap I forgot his name … What’s up, Moe? —Eric Mullins

“Aye Moe” were your first words. —Nathan Jarvis

You say, “Kill, Moe!” —Clyde Ensslin

You call everyone “Moe” and don’t realize it. —Mysiki Valentine

You call your friends “Moe.” —Tamara Chin

You know the phrase “Kill, Moe” actually isn’t an order to murder someone named Moe. —Mikala

Street Sense Love

You make sure to have some cash on hand if you’re downtown so you can support the Street Sense writers. What better way to support those that need some assistance and journalism all at the same time? —Whitney Stringer

You recognize the call of the spiffy Street Sense salesman always around Metro Center. —Matt G

You buy a Street Sense from the Cat in the Hat every time, even if you already have the issue he’s selling. —Anonymous

Hospital Dramas

The hospital where you were born is now a condo building. —Drew Richard

Your 8-year-old child was born at Sibley Hospital but you haven’t lived in the District since 2001. —Anonymous

Someone says they’re from D.C., and you asked them what neighborhood they are from. In addition, you ask them at which hospital they were born. —Eric Mullins

You were born in Columbia Hospital for Women. —Jordan

You were born in Garfield Memorial Hospital. —Maria

You were born in DC General Hospital. —A

Your children were born at Columbia Hospital for Women, and you and your siblings were born there too. And both of your parents were born in the District and went to DC Public Schools. —Anonymous 

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