March 20, 2008

Springtime In Monkeytown

Most weeks, I end up spending a couple days in Monkeytown*, a couple of days in my office in Virginia and, generally, Fridays holed up in the basement working from home. This week, though, I've had three straight days in Monkeytown. And I like Monkeytown. It's a beautiful city and I can't get used to the fact that I work here in the nation's capital. I pass by the Washington and Lincoln monuments every day and they are still awe-inspiring. But, since it's spring, I'm starting to remember some of the things I hate about being there.

Protesters. I get that there are always going to be people who have a beef with the government. Frankly, I've got several myself. Pissed off about the war on this, it's fifth anniversary? Word. Tired of a corrupt, out of touch republican administration? Solidarity, brother. Think pre-op transvestites deserve to carry automatic weapons with armor piercing bullets? You're on your own there. But if you're going to protest - for any reason - leave the average, everyday guy out of it. Don't block traffic, don't barricade yourself in front of buildings, and please refrain from stripping naked and running through the streets unless you're hot.

Buses. Springtime in Washington is beautiful what with all the cherry blossoms, nice weather, street vendors and homeless guys lying on street corners covered with aforementioned cherry blossoms. To save the sanity of everyone who works and lives in the city, though, nothing would be more welcome than a complete ban on buses. They're big, they stink, they take up two lanes of traffic, they park wherever the hell they want and their drivers - I'm convinced - are legally blind. In the spring, thousands of buses descend on the District polluting the city and running drivers off the road. Worse, they nearly double the time it takes to get out of the city by car. That leads to...

Tourists. This is a cool place to visit. I'm not telling anyone they shouldn't. But for the love of god, if you're visiting the city and have no idea where you're going (or even if you think you do), don't drive. The District is overrun with people every spring and summer who lose their fucking minds trying to find their ways from point A to B. Driving around here is a little tricky. We have good public transportation - use it. Take a taxi, walk, grab the subway. Just don't come on a bus.

What's the problem where you live or work? And, hypothetically, if you had to sabotage a very large group of buses over a six month period, how would you do it?

* "Monkeytown" is what my daughter calls Washington DC. It's unclear why.
** I'd like to point out just how well I've managed to hold my tongue about the war in this post. I avoided saying much of anything about its unjustness. Or how it was sold to us based on lies, half-truths and spin. I avoided talking about the 4,000 American lives that have been lost as well as the countless innocent victims. I didn't even mention the monetary cost ($503 billion to date) and how senseless it is when contrasted with the financial downturn that promises to be more than just a small blip on America's economic radar. I didn't even sink to the obvious, low blows like calling the president names like "Dubya" or "asshat" or "dipshit." Admire the self-restraint.

Posted by Chris at March 20, 2008 7:14 AM

Ah, North Carolina. The biggest problem here involves the BBQ being a little too vinegary.

As for sabotage, you could always make like a ninja and, in the dead of night, post signs all over DC pointing buses toward Rte 66-West or whatever the route is to Annapolis. Annapolis is nice this time of year, too. So, is West Virginia. Win win. Or guide them onto the Woodrow Wilson bridge, where they'll rot in traffic and forfeit their will to live. Then again, there's always the less subtle route of napalm.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at March 20, 2008 7:46 AM


Tourists suck in Chicago, as well. I don't know how they drive, because I don't drive, but I know that when they're walking, the will stop immediately, regardless of where they are, to gawk at some big building or take some stupid picture. And I run into these people.
I used to try to avoid them, but now I feel they deserve it. Sidewalks are not for stopping in the middle of.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 20, 2008 8:08 AM

I always thought I would write the great American novel, but lately I haven't contemplating "Lawyers Behaving Badly" or "Maria's NYC Guide for Tourist." I don't think I have to explain the first. The second is necessary because I think people go on vacation and leave the common sense (if they had any) at home.

Here's a small sampling:
Double Decker Tour Buses. Taking a walking tour instead. Excercise is good for you and you'll see more of the city in less time. The tour buses just cause traffic jams.

It's never a good idea to stop in the middle of street whether it is vehicular or pedestrian with your mouth gaping open and you stare at the tall buildings. If you step aside to stare up, you won't meet any rude New Yorkers. Cars can hurt you if they hit you.

Subways are a convenient and safe way to get around the city. If the are people trying to enter, it is not a good idea to read your Metro card while blocking the turnstile. Stand aside and you won't meet any rude New Yorkers. It isn't necessary for you to wrap your bodies around the poles on the subway. One hand or two will do. I promise you won't fall. When you do it, you are a rude tourist. Also, please stand aside when people are ascending and descending.

I could go on and on, obviously. :-)

Bus sabotage? Day old, sun ripened fish tucked into hard to reach crevices? Sugar in the gas tanks?

I admire your restraint. :-)

Posted by: Maria at March 20, 2008 8:16 AM

The only protester I like is the guy who sits on the corner each day holding a sign that says, "Pot rocks".

Posted by: Tink at March 20, 2008 8:32 AM

I have to call you on the bus thing. I take the bus to work and I can't understand why more people don't do it. I'm sorry they get in your way but think of them as replacing 20 cars and think how those 20 cars would be even more in your way.

But if you're talking about tour buses... word.

Posted by: Steve Boyko at March 20, 2008 8:50 AM

I happen to think Mia's name for DC is probably the most PERFECT name there is :) something about it just clicks...
I promise when I visit... I am going to stay in Arlington and come in by Subway/Train/Metro (whatever you guys call it down there)

Posted by: Stephanie at March 20, 2008 8:53 AM

Almost as bad as the driving tourists are the ones who can't understand the concept of the Metro. I often choke back frustration at the tourons who block the left side of the escalator (stand right, walk left, people!!) while they discuss whether they should go see the Smithsonian today (they plan to see the whole thing in one day? That's an accomplishment.)

Posted by: Dana Whitaker at March 20, 2008 8:55 AM

I live in NYC so i;d have to say the insane amount of taxis. they are everywhere and make traffic a nightmare. plus the drivers drive like lunatics. other than that, id say tourists who are ever so casually strolling down the crowded streets when you are trying to get somewhere. they get in the way! Move it lady!!

Posted by: madmom at March 20, 2008 8:57 AM

Have you noticed that "Monkeytown" rhymes with "Funkytown". Coincidence? Or, is your daughter harboring a love for Lipps Inc? You decide...

Posted by: Arwen at March 20, 2008 9:10 AM

The little group of student socialists here had a walk-out yesterday. Not many people participated but they made an assload of noise, so more power to them. However, they are the type of elitist assholes who are all "you are either over here with us smoking pot or you are AN EVIL REPUBLICAN". There are only two sides to them. Sad.


The BFF and I have decided that when we come tourist up D.C., we're relying on you guys to give us all the insider information so we don't become the tourists you mentioned. heh

Posted by: Sparkle Pants at March 20, 2008 9:11 AM

Ah, tourists. I think tourists get on everybody's nerves, which is a shame. I thought we got an especially stupid breed here in Philly (slack-jawed, blocking sidewalks) but maybe they're like that everywhere?

And just to clear something up, when you advocate nudity for protesters only if they're "hot," do you mean hott hot or overly warm hot? Or both? I think it's important to make that distinction. I say both.

Posted by: Fraulein N at March 20, 2008 9:11 AM

We managed our five year observation last night in front of the high school. Quiet and peaceful.

I know the tourists can be a pain but I wonder if we all wouldn't be better off if we could just slow down a bit and smile a little more.

Or am I dreaming?

Posted by: ann adams at March 20, 2008 9:18 AM

In Texas, everybody forgets how to drive when it rains. Like you have to go 5 miles per hour if your car gets wet. And I'm not talking about the torrential downpours that can sweep you off the street (like we had on Tuesday). Light rain, regular rain, even a-cloud-a-cloud-it-looks-like-it-might rain can put you behind 30 minutes in your commute. Having moved here from Seattle, it's infuriating.

Posted by: Amy at March 20, 2008 9:24 AM

I live in metro Atlanta where everyone has a car and everyone commutes to the city, so my biggest problem is traffic. You can pretty much guarantee that if there is:

Rain...there will be traffic
A minor fender bender that has already made it to the side of the road...there will be traffic
A dead deer on the side of the highway (It's still GA people)...there will be traffic
A police car on the side of the road...there will be traffic
An accident...there will be so much traffic that it will take you 8-30 hrs to get home and you will probably not make it there because you will already have impaled yourself with your gear shift.
Snow...there will be an accident (see above)

Also, I admire your resraint. Sometimes I would like to say that Dubya is a douchebag (you already took asshat) and that our own soldiers are coming home from places we could never imagine sending our children, only to say that it's a senseless war, buuuuuuut I too have restraint.

Posted by: Mymilabean at March 20, 2008 9:25 AM

I teach a boy who deems himself to be a ninja. I could send him to you ? He's pretty sneaky and HILARIOUS !

I was watching a Canadian program about the lies abd propoganda surrounding the War in Iraq. Do programs like this hit the airwaves in the States ?

Posted by: Heather at March 20, 2008 9:36 AM

SESSION. That's what is wrong with my town. I live in Florida's capitol and 3 months out of the year the members are here to, you know, mess around with our laws and take away more money. Mainly, they make navigating the (small) downtown area absolute hell. They cross the street whenever they want, cram into all the local (small) eateries, and generally act like morons on the roads with their big SUVs, vanity license plates with things like SEN8, 4GOVT, etc...

Posted by: claire at March 20, 2008 9:41 AM

Carlisle, PA. Not exactly the hotbed of tourist activity. Except 13 times a year, when Carlisle Events hosts their car shows. Even then, it's not exactly horrific, but it's a numbers thing. LOTS more traffic. LOTS more people.

At least they did away with the terrible, evil Custom Compact show, where all the teeny boppers came and reinacted Spring Break. The kicker was the doofus who did a burnout on a motorcycle IN the lobby of a hotel.

Dubya. Asshat. Douche. Dipshit.

Sorry. I have no restraint.

Posted by: Ames at March 20, 2008 9:44 AM

Ah, you are funny... I totally agree on your war comments and I also fight commenting about the war but dang it is hard.

I live in small college town America. I love college town but the initial dumb ass students coming to town in the fall can suck butt esp. when it comes to 1 way streets...

Also, there is a LARGE Greek system here and seriously 23 collegiate sorority girls in Uggs and $300 jeans may sound like a fantasy to someone (most certainly NOT me...) but when you are trying to eat out anywhere near the university well you just do not do it. Go out to the interstate because those places are far away and no Ugg wearing sorority girl will be seen there!

Finally, some times small towns can be a pain in the rumpess. They just do not have all that you need or want. It is a short-ish drive to the big city but you know having a Super Target in your own backyard would really KICK ASS at times!

Otherwise, I love where I live. It is a little bastion of blueness in a SEA of red. It is liberal, laid back, and the populace is generally very intelligent. The schools are excellent. My drive to work is 5 minutes from my house and I never really have to deal with traffic. There is a lot to do for a small town in terms of the arts and cultural events b/c of the university as well a million parks and areas to hike/bike.

Posted by: Christina at March 20, 2008 9:47 AM


It was many years ago that we took a feild trip to D.C. for a week, we came and left by train and got from point A to B by breaking up into small groups and taking the Subway. SO, good work to my teachers who organized that event.

I live about 20 minutes south of Birmingham, Alabama and here we have no such thing as tourists. We have people who come hear to visit family but for the most part I think we would all like to go visit that family where ever they are to get out of here for a while. Don't get me wrong it has it's good parts but there REALLY is nothing to do here.

Have a great day!

Posted by: Kelly M. at March 20, 2008 9:52 AM

Open fires. And relentless, skin-searing heat. Oh, and tourists.

Posted by: Erin at March 20, 2008 9:57 AM

That's for the restraint... If you had said what you really wanted, I might have had to jump up and agree.

I love DC also... I'm glad I married a guy that works there and knows his way around so when we go, we park out and either Metro or walk in... depending on how far "out" is.

However, I have NEVER been there for cherry blossoms... because it's too crowded. One of these times though...

Posted by: Karen at March 20, 2008 9:59 AM

Your self-restraint is truly remarkable. ;)

Posted by: Hope at March 20, 2008 10:10 AM

I live FAR too close to work, so that on a snow day for everyone else I can walk to work! UGH!!! sabotage a bus...I'd COMPLETELY knock it off it's course (by completely scaring it!) if I walked out of the house naked!! LOL!!!!

Posted by: The Speeks at March 20, 2008 10:11 AM


(BTW, I make it a point to never drive in strange cities. And the metro in DC is so easy to use! we visited there when my son was 6 and HE could figure it out.)

Posted by: kalisa at March 20, 2008 10:12 AM

What Steve said about buses.

Edinburgh is full of tourists too, I feel your pain. Although i did choose to live here though.

Posted by: Katherine at March 20, 2008 10:22 AM

You forgot to remind those tourists that while they should definitely choose taking the metro over driving, they need to stand on the RIGHT or walk on the LEFT on those escalators. Oh, and talking during rush hour is NOT appreciated. Most of us just want to get the heck home in peace and don't care how your trip to the zoo was.

Posted by: Stephanie at March 20, 2008 10:23 AM

I live in a state that last time I checked was second only to FL for retirees. So on the top of my commuters rant list is blue hairs who must leave early to go to Denny's. And I live in a college town, too (three colleges to be precise). I think I might trade you a equal portion of people who can't see over the steering wheel and people that I cannot believe actually got into college for tourist buses. Maybe . . .

Posted by: OS at March 20, 2008 10:27 AM

My least favorite thing about Monkeytown is the raunchy insanity of nightlife.

I'm only 22, mind you, but even I couldn't get into the drunken antics. I wanted to get home as soon as I got out.

Posted by: Rachel at March 20, 2008 11:19 AM

NO ONE can drive in Boston. Not even the people who live here, so imagine how many tourists have their sweet little heads pop off when they try to drive in Boston proper only to be informed "you can't get there from here."

Also, I'm a conservative. In an excruciatingly liberal state. Now, before you get all "But the Bush Administration!!" on my ass, I'd like to clarify that I am a Fiscal Conservative, and Social Moderate. But even so, I HATE that my vote rarely counts for anything on a national level, and you don't know from crazy protesters until you've seen some of the tinfoil hat wearing loonies who show up on Beacon Hill.

Posted by: chatty cricket at March 20, 2008 11:33 AM

Farmer Bob!!!!
Oh how I loath you Farmer Bob. You and your spring time planting and tractors and SLOWNESS! You clog my roadways. You taunt me with your friendliness. You add 10 minutes to my drive every day.

That's all I've got. Bring on the daffodils and the tulips. After the horrible winter we just had, I think I can even be happy about seeing Farmer Bob again.

Posted by: SassyPants at March 20, 2008 11:49 AM

Yes, your restraint is something to behold :-)

Posted by: samantha jo campen at March 20, 2008 11:50 AM

i live in seattle. we also have all three of these problems. our buses aren't as evil (almost) and we have one more annoyance that is the unholy abomination of tourists combined with an amphibious bus: The Duck. they carry around tourists on tours of seattle and at some point they drive into lake washington and motor across it. i hate them because, like the buses, they take up a ton of room, their drivers are bat-$h1t insane, and they smell awful. encountering one of these things while riding your bike around town is what i imagine cats feel like when they hear the vacuum.

imagine an amphibious, open air bus filled with tourists with novelty duck calls chasing you down the waterfront. yes, it's as terrifying as it sounds.

Posted by: Jared at March 20, 2008 12:08 PM

Admired. Applauded, even.

Vancouver has NO highways in the city. NONE. NOT ONE. You have to take side streets through the whole thing. What could be a 10 minute drive in the highway to downtown from the burbs is, instead, a 40 minute drive. The highway system doesn't begin until you completely, totally leave the city. It's horrifying. There's not even a highway from the AIRPORT.

We are so totally screwed in 2010 when the Olympics hit.

Posted by: Mr Lady at March 20, 2008 12:20 PM

Hmmm...driving tourists...we don't have those here in NYC, to my knowledge. (thank god) Maybe people just know better than to even try. DC needs to work on its reputation. :)

But I work right in the middle of Times Square...a Tourist Mayhem hotspot. I avoid going out during the day unless absolutely necessary. And I have never once in my whole life driven a car to work.

How would I sabotage buses? I would have to go with gradually adding a Barney theme to EVERYTHING, complete with sound effects, announcements, ads, colors, and music.

OR I'd take the bottoms out and everyone would have to "run" the bus like Fred Flintstone runs his car.

Posted by: jessica at March 20, 2008 12:25 PM

I was going to protest your protest of naked streakers, but then I saw you mentioned necessary hotness, so I refrained.

Posted by: GreenCanary at March 20, 2008 12:37 PM

No! Please, don't send them to the metro. They stand on the wrong side, make snide remarks when you ask them to "excuse" you, stop at the top of the escalator and litter uncontrollably. Also, I was offered a seat yesterday by someone finally able to tell I was pregnant and one of the annoying school group kids jumped into it. Please, can't we split them? I'll take half, you take half?

Posted by: Del at March 20, 2008 12:45 PM

mia's right on. it perhaps IS monkeytown. or at least...some people who run monkeytown. and the monkey states of america.

round these parts - well really between my mom and i, we call cherry blossoms, popcorn trees.

Posted by: kat at March 20, 2008 12:45 PM

Oh the joys of living in South Dakota! Let me count the ways... No traffic. No tourists (at least here in eastern SD, there's nothing to see - Mount Rushmore is a different story), no public transportation (my only beef), just pure unadulterated car driving. Fast driving at that.

I laugh at those that get frustrated with stupid drivers. I mean really. They exist everywhere. They will always be everywhere you want to be. Do you ruin your otherwise enjoyable drive, listening to good tunes by getting all bent out of shape? I don't. I just assume they're out there. It's up to you whether or not you get pissed off. I'll just take my pollyannaish stance and leave now.

Bush. Ha! Do you know the amount of commentary out there about him being a non-drinking alcoholic NOT in recovery? As a recovering alcholic, I tell you - its ALL TRUE. The egoism, the selfishness, the control, the lack of regard for others, the "I want what I want and I want it right now and you can't stop me" stance on life. Get thee to a twelve step meeting and stop making the rest of us suffer.

Posted by: k8 at March 20, 2008 12:55 PM

The problem where I live...where to start...
1) live in Florida and 2) everyone from every other state is now in Florida.

The most annoying is how everyone that's not from Florida drives. We live at one end of our county and work at the other; and we have to drive I75 to get to and fro.

Since you live in the DC area shadow I'm sure you understand the pain of that daily commute!

Posted by: Michelle at March 20, 2008 1:04 PM

I work in Las Vegas - so the problems are simply too numerous to list. But I shall not complain about the traffic. No. I shall not. I have been in Los Angeles and Dallas and know that Las Vegas' traffic issues simply don't compare.

As far as the busses - I would have to say the old stand-by, sugar in the gas tank. Low cost and very effective.

Posted by: Mindy at March 20, 2008 1:28 PM

but. but. but...
what are you going to do if I come to Monkeytown on a bus?

Posted by: stinkerbell at March 20, 2008 2:06 PM

My big complaint is that in NH we tend to get tourists from Massachusetts and New York. They walk around saying things like “Oh, look at that church/town hall/ cemetery/stonewall/cow! That’s so CUTE! We don’t see THOSE at home. You know, in the CITY.” Well, we’re all just here to be quaint for you, asshole. Thanks for the bit part you’ve allowed us to play in your world. Let me put on my John Deere hat for you.

And don’t even get me started on how these douche bags drive. During foliage season, these same effheads are likely to suddenly stop in the middle of the road to photograph a tree.

Posted by: Sphincter at March 20, 2008 3:23 PM

I loved my one and only trip there in October of 2004. I thought the subway system was awesome. Clean and very easy to navigate. It's so silly when people try to drive in strange cities. Give it up!

Posted by: Pocklock at March 20, 2008 3:27 PM

Sweetie, I think you showed great restraint!

Posted by: Maribeth at March 20, 2008 3:27 PM

Should people run naked through the streets if they are "hot" like a fat guy on a 100-degree day, or if they are "hot" like that chick on Lost that my husband is so excited about? It's an important distinction, I think.

Duly admiring your restraint.

Posted by: julie at March 20, 2008 3:44 PM

There's no tourists, buses or protesters here - but then there's not much here. Way out here in the sticks we have a Super Walmart, but it's not exactly a destination...

And I do admire your restraint, ranting and raving is easy - restraint is difficult.

Posted by: Mandy Lou at March 20, 2008 4:21 PM

I was visiting DC last week for an interview with Georgetown and I went for a walk with my boyfriend to the White House. We saw this women protesting while pacing back and forth, and we figured it was about the war or something. When we got close enough to hear her, she kept screaming "EVERY 5 SECONDS" becuase instead of protesting a worthwhile cause, she wanted warning labels to be put on hot dogs because children could choke on them. We couldn't believe this woman! So yea, I understand the aggravating factor of the protesters...

Posted by: Whitney at March 20, 2008 4:29 PM

Consider me admired......

You could always put bananas in the bus tail pipes. It might be a bit reminiscent of junior high, but really, wouldn't it be funny to see a ton of buses backfiring bananas?

Posted by: Jen at March 20, 2008 4:50 PM

You know, I now have stuck in my head, "Take it to Monkey Town" instead of Funky Town. Thanks ;-) And you showed quite admirable restraint.

Posted by: Heather at March 20, 2008 4:50 PM

I live in Birmingham, AL so every spring and fall we have a little NASCAR race here called Talladega. Picture this bumper to bumper tourists from all over the country in RV's not knowing where to go or how to drive on our interstates.

The other thing SNOWBIRDS traveling south. My goodness man this does not mean that just because you are from out of state you have permission to get in the left lane and do 45 mph in a 70 mph zone that will get you ran over for doing 70.

PLUS anytime it rains the whole city forgets how to drive and there are wrecks anywhere. HEAVEN FORBID they say snow here the whole town shuts down the grocery stores run out of milk and bread and IF it does snow it usually ices too and people forget that YOU CAN NOT DRIVE ON ICE.

Posted by: Heather at March 20, 2008 5:40 PM

Ohhhh, I think it's clear *why* Mia calls it Monkeytown. ;)

Posted by: Poppy at March 20, 2008 6:02 PM

I live about five minutes from where I work and drive through four lights, so it drives me bonkers when I get them all red. Once the weather turns nice I'm actually going to walk to work. I'm really glad I don't commute.

Posted by: Adi at March 20, 2008 9:10 PM

I live about five minutes from where I work and drive through four lights, so it drives me bonkers when I get them all red. Once the weather turns nice I'm actually going to walk to work. I'm really glad I don't commute.

Posted by: Adi at March 20, 2008 9:10 PM

My Absolute desire to go outside and enjoy the spring weather! (I work from home, but its still too wet out to perch my laptop out on the picnic table..) ;)

as far as going into work.. I'd have to say Traffic.. Although its not really that bad.. its still a pain.. especially on Friday's around 3:00 everyone's in a rush to get outta town!

Posted by: Molly at March 20, 2008 9:46 PM

I live in NOrthass New Jersey. Where an 18 minute ride at 7PM takes 42 minutes at 7AM. There's just no way to get there from here. I am currently in a contest with myself to try every backroad available to get to work in the morning. Today I was lost in an industrial park, so that one gets crossed off the list.

Posted by: Candy at March 21, 2008 10:39 AM

I live in Edinburgh. In August, when the International Festival happens, our population doubles and ALL of the extra people are out on the street, dressed as statues or babies or ghosts trying to persuade you to take a flier and come to see their production of Hamlet in ancient Serbo-Croat and they won't take no for an answer even when you are trying (hypothetically, say) to get up the High Street to COURT where you work and where you were supposed to be ten minutes ago..........(*takes a deep breath*)

Posted by: Loth at March 21, 2008 1:41 PM

Totally admiring the restraint.

I LOVED the subway for the short time I was in DC. What a great thing that mass transit system is. FABBO. Why don't more people use it - as in the tourists? I would hate trying to drive around to see everything when the system is there and it gets you everywhere.

Posted by: Keri at March 21, 2008 4:23 PM

I'm admiring it. And hoping to wake up one morning and find that this administration has all been a "Who Shot JR" (a dream, in case you missed out on that fine 80's drama).

Posted by: Nanette at March 25, 2008 8:27 AM

All people deserve wealthy life time and home loans or just auto loan will make it much better. Because people's freedom depends on money state.

Posted by: TerrySchneider30 at July 19, 2010 2:28 AM