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An Account of the Curious Practifes of the Divers Inhabitants of the Fabled Diftrickt of
If you drive, get here no later than 3pm to beat Beltway and city traffic. All streets have a two hour limit from 7am to 7pm unless you have a zone permit, which you can get if you register your car in DC (see below).
Fly in via Southwest or any other airline that lands in Baltimore-Washington Int'l (BWI). From there, take the free shuttle bus (they come every 20 minutes) to the AMTRAK/MARC station. At the station you can buy a ticket to Union Station in DC for $5. A roundtrip ticket is only $8. But if you buy the return ticket in DC, you have to pay $15. The trains run about every hour. Union Station is on the Metro (see below) Red Line. If you're staying in the suburbs, count on about 3 hours of travel time between BWI and wherever you're staying.
Why not take a break first? Bypass the chi-chi shops of Union Station and marvel at the building itself, an impressive structure modeled after an imperial Roman bath. Go outside, look across the street at the Postal Museum. Now turn left and you should see the Irish Times, next to another, much bigger, Irish pub. I haven't been in the latter, but I had a pint of Guinness in the former for $4. As the name implies, the pub carries the Irish Times newspaper and is a booster for hometown soccer (that's football everywhere else) club, D.C. United.
Refreshed? Good. The Metro (link pending) gets you from most anywhere to most anywhere else, for between $1.10 and 2.10 ($2.95 6-9am or 3:00-7:30pm), from 5:30 am to about midnight seven days a week. There's a big map in every station that has fares and approximate travel times from your location. It's clean and safe, though the ambience is strictly from Alphaville (a nice place to raise your kids up). Trains run every 6 to 12 minutes, depending. Some differently-colored lines like the Blue/Orange and Yellow/Green share some tracks, so look sharp and be sure you've got the right train.
Where to Go
If you just have a few hours, Metro Smithsonian (Red Line) lets you out on the Mall, within easy walking distance of most of the museums, most of which are free, and Metro Dupont Circle will put you close to lots of international restaurants. North Dupont Circle is a lively gay area. A gay bar called The Circle, on Connecticut between Q & R Streets, hosts Bound, a fetish party every Friday night. There are lots of restaurants and bars here. City Lights of China, between R & S has excellent and reasonably priced dishes. Anna Maria's almost next door, has good Italian. Childe Harold, across the street, has good food, but the service was slow when I went there 2 years ago. On the north side of the circle, across from Connecticut from the Q St entrance of Dupont Metro, is Kramerbooks/Afterwords. The place is open the entire weekend. Order the nachos. West of the circle, on P and 21st, are Second Story Books and a good place to get 12" dance vinyl. East of Dupont, on 18th and S, is Lauriol Plaza, a good Tex-Mex restaurant.
To the north and east, starting at Florida/U and 18th, is the Adams Morgan area, home to many cool bars like Chief Ike's Mambo Room (1725 Columbia), Pharmacy (18th between Kalorama and Columbia) and excellent music stores like Flying Saucer Disks (18th near Kalorama) and DCCD (a little further north and across the street). This strip has great restaurants like Star of Siam, Meskerem (Ethiopian), Red Sea (ditto), New Orleans Cafe (Cajun-ish), Saigonnais (Vietnamese), and Cafe Riche (French/Algerian). The last is somewhat expensive, but owner Beny runs it like a relaxed, European cafe. Ercilia's, on 18th just below Kalorama, has great inexpensive Tex-Mex food.
East of Adams Morgan is U Street, running from 18th St to 9th St. It's full of bars and restaurants. State of the Union and the Republic Gardens, both at U & 14th, play jazz, funk, and trip-hop. The Black Cat, 2 blocks south of there, is a good live venue for indie pop. The Velvet Lounge, on the 900 block of U, is unassuming and quiet on weeknights. I've never been to Ben's Chili bowl, on the 1100 or 1200 block of U, but it's supposed to be an institution.
To get to Georgetown you have to take Foggy Bottom/GWU Metro and walk 3 blocks north and 5 west, or get off at Farragut Square West and take the 34/35/36 Friendship Heights bus. Georgetown is mostly M street and the Potomac waterfront. There are good restaurants and bars along it, but LOTS of interns and college kids. MusicNow, an excellent dance music shop, can be found on 3209 M St., a block past Wisconsin. DJs shop here. 202.338.5638. Another block over is Smash Records, a punk music store and boutique. There's an ok comics store on M, Another Universe, between 30th and Jefferson Place, but a much better one is Aftertime Comics (703.548.5030), on 1304 King St in Old Town Alexandria, a few blocks south of King St Metro (Blue/Yellow Lines).
Where to Live
Anywhere along Connecticut Avenue, from Dupont Circle on up to Woodley Park-Zoo is nice if you want to be close to the restaurants and good movie theaters. Further north it gets kinda suburban, but still somewhat close to the action. The West side of Connecticut is very good, but it's very expensive since it's near Embassy Row (Mass Ave.) and Georgetown. I lived at Kalorama, Columbia and 19th, and I paid $1.10/sq. ft. plus electricity. There are lots of "English basement' (street level or below) apartments available in the area. Some of them are very nice, but all the light is in the front and the back. Some national magazine listed U St. as one of the 10 hippest places to live. Another funky area in town is Mt. Pleasant, up Columbia and 16th St. You can find some old houses in the area.
A place for your car (This way lies madness)
Against your better judgment you've opted not to berth your car in the garage of the suburban firm for which you work, so you're going to get right with DC. This is how it's done.
1) Get your car insurance changed to a DC policy. Second, get proof of your new insurance, your certified car title, and proof of residence. A copy of a lease agreement or a phone bill in your name will do.
2) Register your car at the Dept of Public Works. Costs $20 or so for the inspection fee, $15 or so for the stickers and 5% of the car's Blue Book value, counting mileage. They take cash and checks. Also convert your out of state license. That costs $20, I think. If your old license has expired, you must take the written test. Study materials are available at the office.
3) Get your car inspected in DC. There are only two places, one southeast and one northeast. The northeast one is on Half Street, northeast of Gallaudet University
The Washington Post and the Washington City Paper. The former broke the Watergate story almost 25 years ago. The latter is one of those inner-city alternative tabloids that are indispensable for tracking city life. The Washington Times is owned the Reverend Sun Myung Moon and is a haven for the whiny voice of threatened privilege, i.e., right-wing commentary. The Post has better comics. There's also the Baltimore City Paper for--you guessed it--Baltimore .
RADIO Signs of life!
In general, radio here blows. It's either talk shows (WJFK). It's got Howard Stern, G. Gordon Liddy & Ferrell On the Bench. The last is a sometimes hilarious sports call-in show hosted by whiskey-voiced Scotty Ferrell, who's almost succeeded in making me give a shit about sports. Everybody here's nuts about sports. And instead of Love Phones with Dr. Judy you get Lovelines (10pm-12am) on WHFS and the execrable Dr. Laura Schlesinger (whenever).
- WJFK FM (106.7) - Capitol Radio 10p-1am Saturday nights. Good college-type radio and sometimes punk fuckin' rock
- WHFS FM (99.1) - Trancemissions 12-2am Saturday nights. The latest house, techno, drum 'n' bass, etc
- WWRC AM (570) - Dreamland with Art Bell. Sundays 10pm-midnight
- WPFW FM (88.5) - Pacifica. Jazz, reggae, African, Pacifica news
- WARW FM (94.7) - The Greaseman. 6am-10am Mon-Fri. Cheesy but often hilarious antics of Gino "Grease" Manelli
- WMUC FM (88.1) - Univ of Md-College Park. Great college radio. Best reception is in northern DC
I'll think of more later
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