Good morning, City Desk readers. The one and only Ted Scheinman is chilling in the tropics this week, and yours truly has been tasked with turning regular Wednesday roundup into WTF?! Wednesday roundup. How about this weather, huh? Huh? The boss (as in, my boss) knows what I’m talking about. News and commentary about Phish, pot, Metro, and taxes, after the jump.
- Dave McKenna incited a quiet riot on Monday by asking, “Did Anybody Go to the Phish Reunion?” Phish fans, many endowed with a LSD-inspired sixth sense, flocked to the comments board. The exchange was nowhere near as trippy as the culture war going on over at the Sexist, or as revolting as the average Twilight attack, still, I was mucho impressed to see the school of stone-washed stoners band together in defense of Trey “Is this thing on?” Anastasio.
- Speaking of getting stoned: “Police said Monday they confiscated about $1.2 million in illegal drugs and more than $68,000 in cash…Authorities also arrested 194 Phish fans during the three-night celebration of the band’s return to the stage after a nearly five-year absence.” That’s the gut of an AP article about the Phish reunion concert. Let me sum it up in a different way: Laid back folk got together to listen to some laid back tunes, and the cops ROBBED THE SHIT OUT OF THEM. For those of you who are thinking (or typing) “serves those scofflaws right,” I want you to look around your home or office for a consumable that some other person might perceive as unhealthy—a bottle of Jager, maybe, or the April 2004 issue of Genesis magazine, or a package of Ramen noodles. Now, I want you to imagine some sweaty prick with a Taser taking that thing away from you, bending your arms behind your back, snapping a picture of you after you’ve been crying (this picture will end up online), demanding thousands of dollars in exchange for your freedom, and then releasing you in your dirty laundry with that taboo attached to your personal record. Ugh.
- The National Review Online‘s Media Blog tips its hat to the Washington Times for totally nailing the Chas Freeman story. Kevin D. Williamson writes: “The other Times — the Washington Times — was very much on the case, with Eli Lake providing the most substantive reporting on Freeman, his history, and his connections to the Chinese and Saudi regimes. National Review, The New Republic, and other opinion journals covered the story, but the newspapers were largely absent. The Washington Post covered the story sparingly, and the Wall Street Journal touched on it, too, but considering the issues at play, it was remarkable that so much of the daily press took a back seat.” It would seem that this is one of those stories only Washington folk give a shit about: Jamie “Am I bigger than Jesus, yet?” Kirchick dug his heels into the Freeman story over at The New Republic and the Washington Independent’s Dave Weigel suggested that the now office-less Freeman will one day form an unholy alliance with Michael Steele.
- Michael Perkins did some WMATA math and found “Metrorail fares have stayed flat relative to inflation for trips of equal length.” He goes on to suggest that WMATA could stand to raise them: “Would it be better if fares kept up with inflation, and there was less pressure for service cuts? Maybe with fare increases, there would be money for increased service after the recession is over.” Perkins’ post is deep, folks. I suggest those of you who can handle more than a graf or two of uninterrupted transportation talk dive the hell in. Though for my money, I think WMATA would invest in a chain of children’s haircutteries before it raised fares as much as they need raising—an amount that would further marginalize the people who need WMATA the most. (Also a good transportation read: “Nobody Rides for Free,” by Sarah Godfrey.)
- Last but not least, there’s a party: My some-time bosses at Reason magazine and reason.com are hosting a Reason.tv (so many domains!) viewing party this Friday in celebration of John Stossel’s 20/20 special, “Bailouts, Big Spending, and Bull.” I have reason to believe that “[s]oft and hard drinks and light fare will be served,” and I’m certain that admission is free, and that most of the attendees will be the sweetest, most disarmingly-sincere capitalist pigz most of you have never met. Just make sure and RSVP. (Ruth Samuelson wrote a great piece about think tank food awhile back, now’s as good a time as any to read it.)
OK, folks, let’s seize this thing.