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I disagree with Felix Gillette’s commentary on existence in D.C., “Paradise Lost” (1/25). For purposes of an enriching experience, D.C. is a struggling city because it does not have the “quality-of-life” amenities, entirely, that other cities (San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, etc.) naturally exhibit. Sure, D.C. has amenities, but does it have enough to capture the impulsive curiosity of a world traveler? Do Europeans plan exhilarating transatlantic trips to Washington to suffice their cultural and sensory well-being? No, and if they do, they are sure to be disappointed. These are questions that are undeniably painful for D.C. residents, but they must be confronted for renewal purposes.
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D.C. does not have the ambiance of a cultural or idyllic Mecca for one simple reason: It has a troubled past. D.C. has two image problems to contend with: politics and crime (socioeconomic implications). Quite simply, politics does not attract conglomerates interested in the development of culture or the arts within a city. But crime is the real detractor. Globally, Washington has an image as being a vicious, crime-brimming haven—its influences have swept into adjacent Prince George’s County, the most crime-laden county in all of Maryland. Honestly, if you are a middle-class family with traditional and decent upbringing, then three-fourths of Washington is uninhabitable because of severe social class differences—which equates to the likelihood of becoming an innocent victim of crime. So each year, thousands of would-be residents discuss the relevance of living in D.C. with one realization: Is it really worth it? I cannot count the number of violent incidents I’ve heard about while visiting Washington for business. Crimes were described as occurring during running excursions, simple walks, or automobile entries. No other city has the degree of violence Washington exhibits, and this is a clear and poignant truth.
One only has to browse a Washington City Paper to realize how devoid and depressing D.C. really is. The city politics is defunct, the faux-cultural stories are washed-out, and innovation is negligent. Besides, the city is not adjusted for bicyclists. The city’s public-transportation system is unutilized and limited. D.C. is user-unfriendly. The music scene is sour, with most bands flocking to established scenes to dabble in. The city is flat-out small, the bane of creative types. D.C. does not have an affinity for interesting characters, just a surplus of quasi-bureaucratic annoyances employed as congressional interns and the like.
The city is simply quashed of artistic talent as expressed in the quality of journalism employed by “Paradise Lost.” Felix Gillette is lucky to be basking in his teenage hyperbolic sensation, because if he were in an “idyllic” city, he would then be competing with the able D.C. runaways for a position. So, when Gillette says that “there are more fruits for you and me” while living in a depopulated city, what he really means is that he enjoys living in a post-cataclysmic D.C. to suffice his personal penchant for a society in which he was most likely born. Large majorities of people prefer being away from such fruitless state of affairs. And the genuine artistic types venture to traditional entertainment bastions, leaving D.C. depopulated and questionable as ever at being a redeeming place to exist.