Phil Reese

The ten things I love most about DC

Filed By Phil Reese | May 11, 2010 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: lobbying, politics, travel, Washington D.C.

I know I've been a bad blogger lately, getting all wrapped up in grad school finals and work stuff--and sadly I've had little time to research what I'd really like to do: The Top Ten Direct Action Campaigns in History. In the mean time, I'm here in DC--the Center of the Universe--and I'd just like to do a quick post for you, my friends, on my ten most favorite things about coming to DC.


10. The flight here.

Few people in the world love flying as much as me. Now, to be fair, I love trains more, but a train to DC takes too long, and I'm a working man, so I have to make concessions. However, I find so much joy in gliding through the air in a modern marvel. The cool, fresh cabin air, the views, the cocktails....

Better than the flight here, however, is the hanging out at the gate of the airport. Is it just me, or do they tend to cram an inordinate number of distinguished and attractive mature gentlemen into airports? Add the men in uniform and it's hard to concentrate. Luckily for me, my $7 internet never connected, so I had a good excuse for people watching!

I love a fit man with a little white in his hair in a nice tailored suit with flawless hair.

Don't fret. It gets a bit deeper, after the jump. Just thought I'd start with some humor.

9. The vibe

DC is the personality of the whole country crammed into one spot. Forget New York City, DC is the real melting pot. It's also both a metropolis and a small town at once. What other big city can you be sitting in an outdoor cafe near the gayborhood, and wave hi to the mayor as he trades a quip with your native friend. It's bizarre and wonderful.

It also thrives. Few cities are so alive without being overbearing. You just have to love the energy here.

8. Restaurants/Bars/Clubs/Cafes.

Need I say more? I've been hearing word that the DC clubs were the first in the nation last week to start bumping Robyn's newest single. That really freaking rocks. DC has amazing local color. Their bistros and cafes are so unique and memorable that you go home and wonder why your corner coffee shop doesn't have people busting out verse spontaneously while they clear your tables. The only drawback? $8 beer and $15 martinis. Ick. Otherwise, I love it here!

7. The history

I am a current events guy, but every politics buff is also always secretly a history-lover too. And you can't get more historic than DC. Walking from Dupont Circle to where I'm staying for the night, I passed hundreds of landmarks, ancient avenues and historic houses all with thousands--if not millions--of stories to tell about how things that happened behind closed doors in smoke-filled rooms here shaped the world as we know it. It's powerful stuff. You can also visit history--hop through the Smithsonians, or take a solemn tour of the Holocaust Museum.

The one thing you can't miss in DC is the Lincoln Memorial. I will forever be overwhelmed with goosebumps every time I walk up and stand in that man's shadow. I think that's what made me fall in love with DC when I was eight years old.


6. The architecture

The Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, even the little row houses up and down Q Street or wherever you are--DC is an architect's dream. It's plan is also pretty interesting. And it should be. The city was planned out by world-famous homo, Pierre l'Enfant. Good job, queers!

5. The music

As mentioned above, DC is often the first stop for musical greatness. Did you know that Emo Punk was born here? Did you know that Marvin Gaye first learned to croon here? I'm from Detroit, so a city's musical legacy is very important to me. DC passes muster in my book. You can't go anywhere without running into an extremely talented street musician, or hearing the latest DJ mix that's going to be everywhere in about four weeks, but is only here for right now.

4. The Metro

How can you dislike the Metro? Or the public transit in general. OK, I do wish they worked their fare cards out a little better--up in Chicago and the rest of Illinois, we don't pay for our transit à la carte. That said, our transit systems in Illinois are a little bankrupt. Maybe there's something to be said about charging someone going from Skokie to the Dan Ryan stop a bit more than someone just going from one end of the loop to the other.


The Metro stations are always so marvelous to me. I also love how fast and smooth the ride is, and how predictable the trains are. You rarely ever have to wait and wonder. The map is also very clear and understandable. This edges Chicago, just slightly, for best mass transit I've ever used.

3. Dupont Circle

I don't think Alexander Hamilton and General Fredrich Von Steuben shared an ale and a stolen kiss here in the Revolutionary times, but they might have. Dupont Circle is not only the main gayborhood, it also hangs heavy with the air of history and the energy of American stories. This is one of the oldest neighborhoods in town, and certainly one of the coolest. Although I've been in gayborhoods that were a bit more, shall we say, out, Dupont is still a great place to hit up. With lots of great little stores, boutiques, and--of course--bars, its a great quaint little village all its own. It is quite sad to see that Lambda Rising has made its exit--this is my first time in DC without it. However, Dupont's spirit continues to live on.

2. My DC crew

It's small but growing. My DC friends are among my favorites! These special people in my life make my trips to DC always eventful and always memorable. As a testament to DC's vibe, these are among my most reliable, most laid-back and most loyal friends. I love seeing them while I'm here, and I love making new ones every time I'm back!

1. Politics

I don't think there is much that needs to be said here. All one has to do is peruse my archives to see that I'm a politics guy. I showed up on the Bilerico scene about a year ago with a bang of a political essay. Here I am, again, steeped in it.

Politics is frustrating, and sometimes nauseating, but it's also kinetic and enthralling. The game is certainly flawed, but sometimes the way it's played can be a thrill as well. If you have the constitution for it, of course. I love to see the way that the different groups, organizations and interests intersect and interact, and how much in common we all actually have.

Politics is what brings me to DC today, and it's what will bring me back again and again for the rest of my life. The process will never get old for me, never get discouraging. Sometimes, of course, we all need a little break from the realities, but those breaks only reenergize us to continue the struggle renewed! Tomorrow I will be on Capitol Hill demanding my lawmakers listen to me, their boss, and pass a law that will make me feel a first class citizen for the first time in my adult life.

Electric is the thought of walking the hallowed halls of Congress and touching the walls that Lincoln, Roosevelt, Johnson, Clinton and now Obama have all leaned on. I'm pumped! Can you tell?

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DC is one of my favorite cities in the nation. I'd love to live there instead of Indiana.

I grew up in DC. Last time I visited the Metro was really slow even compared to the Snafus of the NYC subway system. The cars are not designed well to handle crowds. I wish they would put the seats vertically along the sides of the train. That would be such a better design to handle rush hour and the crowds of tourists. Also, it was peak tourist season but still it shouldn't take like 20 minutes to go 2 stops on the Metro.

But yes, it's a nice city to visit and live in esp if you are into politics. Only thing it is really lacking IMO is a decent arts scene. If you're not a political junkie it's hard to live here b/c it's really a one city town like movie industry in Los Angeles.