City Paper is not for tourists
The “See You Later” sidebar, which listed Filmfest DC selections that are likely to be exhibited in other venues in the future (4/20), neglected to mention that the documentary The Cats of Mirikitani is scheduled to be shown on many public television stations in May.
Forget about the Cato Institute—however coy Washington City Paper might be about it, in this ultraliberal city you are the leading libertarian institution. Of course, where liberalism and libertarianism coincide, such as sexual liberty and GLTG rights, City Paper’s libertarianism is front-and-center. And where they don’t, City Paper slyly packages its libertarian message.
Versus business regulation, City Paper launches an unremitting assault in the guise of specific stories showing the government can do no right or lampoons as NIMBY citizens clamoring against out-of-control developers and liquor establishments. City Paper is less in-your-face versus social welfarism, subtly indicting it at every chance by emphasizing its most derelict outcomes in the context of stories ostensibly about some other subject. This technique is so well-integrated as to be almost invisible to readers and so story-specific as to play even to liberals sympathetic to big government but who want it to work well.
City hall—squarely in your sights as “Public Enemy No. 1,” the proverbial citadel of government corruption, incompetence, and abuse of power—alone understands the libertarian context of your articles but cannot call you on it for fear the people will go over to your side. City Paper is safely ensconced in support by the same elements of the business and advocacy community from which city hall’s occupants derive their campaign cash and political sustenance, so city hall knows it can do nothing to blunt your assault on it.
But with “Better Skate Than Never” (4/6), City Paper’s libertarianism is finally out of the closet. City Paper praised the “anti-establishment skating community” who “feared law enforcement, regulators, and neighbors, all of whom they’d successfully fended off despite two years of massive, all-night…parties, were closing in” and “won’t spend much time fretting” but will “get right to rebuilding” without government permission or assistance. The writer didn’t even bother to interview anyone from the government or neighborhood who might have presented an unfavorable view or who would turn to government to mediate and fund a solution. City Paper instead reminded readers of the government’s immorality (D.C. Public Schools teacher Terri Nostrand’s grant money for the Green Skate Laboratory bowl in Langdon Park being stolen by Coolidge Senior High School administration).
The article devoted an entire paragraph to one skater who admits going to government skate parks but lionized this covert facility as “all from skaters” and having “nothing to do with governments” where he “could feel like [he’s] really not supposed to be there” and experience “the thrill of pulling something off that [he’s] not supposed to do” in literary terms like Nietzsche’s Also sprach Zarathustra. Those who had a hand in building this covert facility say they hope to have a similar setup somewhere else in the near future, but of course they won’t tell government or civic leaders where.
It is one thing if skateboarding is a constructive outlet for youthful energy and rebelliousness that could alternatively be channeled into violence and drugs, but quite another if young people learn from it only contempt for law and social order. Meanwhile, are perhaps those of us pressing the city to build a first-class skate park for the skateboarders just wasting our time?
I’ve missed Joe Banno’s opera reviews; they are always worth reading and would have been particularly interesting with this spring’s series of productions by the Washington National Opera. I hope it’s that he is too busy on his own projects and not that you have decided to drop opera reviews.