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I joined the Washington City Paper family this week, replacing the beloved Jule Banville, the recently departed asst. managing editor and D.C. brunch-culture-hater who was kind enough to leave in her office some very important things, such as an AP Stylebook, two dictionaries and a bottle of Tylenol. She left a rotten banana, too, but I think that was a mistake.
Please allow me to make this, my inaugural City Desk blog post, an introduction of sorts.
I come to you via reporting stints both near and far. Looking back, I’d have to say the highlight of my first journalism job, in 1995, was the time I asked a Prince George’s County public information officer out of gruff-cop central casting for an update on the condition of a homicide victim (“She’s still dead!” he laughed, and then said it again for good measure, causing me to turn a shade of purple I have tried very hard to avoid since.).
At The Hill, writing a feature for a special retail section, I once cornered Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) to find out where he shopped for bargains – seriously, I asked him that – and I was scolded and scorned, right there in the House of Representatives’ Speaker’s Lobby (I am afraid of Barney Frank to this day).
At the Baltimore Sun, I wrote about public education, public health, the D.C. area sniper – remember that? – the U.S. Potato Board and, one time, myths about George Washington‘s false teeth. As the Sun’s Moscow bureau chief, yes, I got to go inside the Kremlin, but the best thing I did was leave one of my now-deceased cat Alphabet’s hairs inside Lenin’s tomb.
For the last year and a half, I have been reporting not on your Washington, but the other Washington. You know, the federal Washington, the Big Important Washington, the Washington which, if I were a bolder person, I would confess right here and now to hating at least half the time, probably more. But I enthusiastically embrace the switch – this is the Washington where real life goes on, after all – and what better time to come aboard? A journalist friend said the other day of this city’s fine Ward 8 councilman, Marion Barry, whose most recent exploits have been cataloged by City Paper better than anywhere: “Barry is the news gift that never stops giving.”
Look for the latest on City Desk and in tomorrow’s print edition.
Off to do some journalism now…