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I am writing in response to John Cloud’s feature, “New York Fetish” (8/1) because I am still in shock that Washington City Paper would publish such a pretentious cover story article so against what the publication is about—the city in which we live, Washington, D.C.

So Mr. Cloud hates Washington. So what? Tell him to get his foul-mouthed butt on the next Metroliner out of here—for good! We don’t want him here. So, he says the population’s about to drop by one more? Well, good. Go. And by the way, why does he think we need more people to crowd up our lovely city? Especially when it’s people like him who have nothing better to do with their time than complain about how much they hate it. Amazingly, he admits that the Washington-vs.-New York debate is “tired and stupid,” and yet he has no qualms about launching into a diatribe on how much worse Washington really is. How mature of him. Even when he, albeit briefly, takes the pro for the city in which he currently resides, he manages to be puerile and offensive.

Not only did Mr. Cloud’s article prove offensive, it was also groundless. His statement that “there is no production of joy in Washington” is erroneous. I guess the picnickers at the free symphony concerts out on the Mall, the attendees of the free street shows in Old Town Alexandria near the water, or the folks who take advantage of the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, where performers from a cappella groups to storytellers to gospel singers give free concerts daily, count for very little in Mr. Cloud’s opinion. Not only do the performing arts in Washington produce a heck of a lot of joy, but, even better, they’re often free of charge and thus open to anyone and everyone.

I guess what Mr. Cloud really means when he refers to “joy” is nightlife, as evidenced by his next sentence: “The purpose of bars here is to drink.” Again, I shake my head. If that is so, then how does one explain the hopping dance clubs like Decades and Club Heaven, where hordes of fun-lovers wait in line every weekend, often starting Thursday night. So we don’t have the Palladium (the club, not the condominium). Wah, wah. We should feel really sorry for ourselves. I mean, really, what is he telling City Paper readers? That a city is only as great as the number of clubs that stay open past 3 a.m.? Mr. Cloud needs to get his priorities straight. There are a lot of things Washington offers, which can be embraced by both his constant party-animal persona and my average young professional, social, non-drug-using self.

Not to mention that Washington and its surrounding areas are, hands down, better, cleaner, safer, and less hectic environments in which to raise a family. The majority of the children I see who are the result of growing up in New York are hardened souls; the 13-year-olds are buying fake IDs to get into Mr. Cloud’s favorite druggie clubs, while the 19-year-olds have given up on that scene entirely because it’s what they did when they were “just kids.” (In fact, New York magazine ran a very telling feature to this effect, called “New York Kids,” only a few months ago.)

Don’t get me wrong. I do give New York a lot of credit. It’s an exciting, vibrant city—indeed, the city that never sleeps. And, like Mr. Cloud, I thrive on the fact that I can get dinner there after midnight…although, for me, it’s not preceding a drug-infested rave, it’s following a Broadway show and a few Cosmopolitans at a bar across the street. Heck, I love New York…at least, to visit.

But I lived there. And I can attest to the glamour of a cramped, shared overpriced apartment bordering on Spanish Harlem and the charm of a shoulder-to-smelly-shoulder daily subway commute in the 200-degree heat of the New York City summer, which left me soaked with perspiration by the time I got to work. (Oh, and the reason subway riders in New York are called “straphangers,” by the way, is that there is no place for them to sit down! In Washington, I am almost always able to find a cushioned seat on the clean, graffitiless, panhandler-free, air-conditioned, smooth-riding Metro. I’d be happy to trade the “charm” of being called a straphanger for that!)

So, it’s a glamour and a charm that wore thin pretty quickly. And despite being a New Yorker at heart, who grew up less than an hour outside the Big Apple, I had my complaints. But what you didn’t see me do was voice them in a whiny, crybabyesque manner by writing a nine page article for the Village Voice, City Paper’s New York counterpart (if such a concept is even conceivable!)—a paper that is supposed to be the voice of the people of the city it represents. Hell, I probably would have gotten myself shot had I published such a self-important bash job of the city in which I lived—especially if it appeared as the cover story!

So what did I do instead? Horror of horrors…I moved here, to Washington. I moved because I felt trapped in the concrete jungle that is New York, with buildings towering overhead, and no escape but to hide amongst the throngs that descend upon Central Park, the only place where one can find a natural setting. I moved for the friendly people, the ones on the street that actually say hello to you without pushing by you with their heads down. (It’s funny, the only times I’ve been greeted by a receptionist’s voice here is when I’ve called a receptionist. And I’ll take cordial—even slightly forced—over downright rude any day!) I moved to a place which, yes, I do find more livable, even if it is a bit less “lively.” A place where I get my Washington Post delivered to the door of my spacious apartment and can get a slice of pizza for less than $5 (and by the way, when I lived in New York, there were five—count ’em, five—coffee-shop chains within walking distance from my apartment, two of them Starbucks!) And I did it all without an article to bid all my worshipers goodbye. Good Lord, I’d better go back to New York—they might not have realized I even left! As if they’d care.

Capitol Hill

via the Internet