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Dupont Circle Metro Escalator

Last week, Dupont Circle’s Metro station showcased the subway system’s latest mishap. After a month of reports about track fires and train delays, the station’s gargantuan escalator went on the fritz—forcing out-of-shape commuters to schlep up its 390-foot stairways.

Many Metro-watchers dismissed the breakdown—like the system’s other recent boo-boos—as the inevitable byproduct of a 25-year-old rail network hitting middle age. But not the gumshoes here at the Washington City Paper’s Conspiracy Unit. You’d have to be awfully winded by your climb not to suspect that when all of the escalators at a key exit die, something fishy’s going on:

Suspect:

Recording Industry Association of America

Motive:

Dupont’s Metro exit is a key spot for D.C. street musicians—some of whom complained to the Washington Post that commuters weren’t tipping because they were too exhausted from the climb. When you don’t take time to pay for music on the street, you’re more likely to buy CDs to play at home. And that means more money for the trade association’s coffers.

Means:

The association’s headquarters are just around the corner, at 19th and Connecticut. You’d be amazed what kind of favors corrupt subway engineers do in exchange for free Kid Rock CDs.

Suspect:

Michael F. Jacobson, Executive Director, Center for Science in the Public Interest

Motive:

Health guru Jacobson, who despises everything from high-fat Mexican food to movie popcorn, has recently launched a campaign to combat obesity. What better way to get people exercising than making them walk up the mammoth escalator?

Means:

With offices a mere two blocks away, Jacobson could easily slip over and replace the escalator’s high-fat lubricating oil with some low-fat, high-fiber cereal to gum up the gears for weeks.

Suspect:

Hot dog vendors.

Motive:

What with everyone taking off early for the beach, business has been a little slow this summer for Dupont’s many hot dog stands. There’s nothing like an escalator hike in 90-degree weather to boost drink sales.

Means:

With carts located just feet from the subway entrances, vendors wouldn’t even have to leave their perches to roll a few Gobstoppers into the escalators.

—Stephanie Mencimer and Michael Schaffer