A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Thursday, May 01, 2003 :::
Springtime, Still Glorious.
It has been a long April in Washington, the longest A Mind That Suits can remember. He means that apparently the weather simply cannot accept the fact that spring is upon us, and it should lurch into the upper reaches of the thermometer.

One thing about DC that has always seemed unfair is that the weather does not change in stages. April is not given over to 60 degree weather, May to 70, and so on. "Lurch" is what the weather around here does, and April usually begins quite chilly, and ends with a couple of sweaty, uncomfortable days reminding you of what is to come.

Except this year. April has indeed hovered between 55 and 70, and now it is creeping up. Unfortunately, the air is heavy. Washington was built in a bog that Maryland considered useless, and nothing will change that fact.

And nothing will change the fact that this is the most beautiful city in the United States. The original conception was French, and older European cities are not linear. This makes DC somewhat unfriendly to cars, but A Mind That Suits, who spends a lot of time in Rome, doesn't think this is such a bad thing.

The sensibility is European, but, in fact, the city was designed by an African-American, a man named Benjamin Banneker. L'Enfant came up with a grand scheme, but after the first few buildings were built, they gave up on the idea for a while, L'Enfant went away or died, and when the city started growing again, they found they had lost the plans. So Banneker, who had surveyed the land with L'Enfant, was asked to draw up the plans again, and so he did. That's a fact that's worth remembering.

The bog and the gracious design: it's a combination that is hard to beat. The trees are glorious, the flowers are everywhere, the houses are just as gorgeous as they have always been, even in the broken down areas.

The broken down areas are getting fewer by the minute, as the rich are drawn into the city by its beauty, the horrors of suburban traffic (second worst in the nation), and a radically improved government. What is happening to the people that are being displaced is a very serious question--one that our still sub-par-though-much-better-than-the-bad-years city government is avoiding--but it does mean that many 120-year-old houses are getting thorough and long-overdue restorations.

Nothing about the weather will change, either. It will soon be a typical Southern summer, though much milder than anything Atlanta or Orlando goes through. The Northerners will moan and complain, but it is really not that awful. Ask A Mind That Suits to say that in mid-June, the hottest month. August has that reputation, but it is undeserved. People are just tired of it by then.

And nothing will change the fact that most of those rich people are lawyers, lawyers who are known to come out of their houses and complain if you did not park as they see fit. This actually happened to an acquaintance. A Mind That Suits himself has been known to leave notes on cars parked illegally or inconsiderately, but that is when he himself is blocked in or can't parallel park correctly because the person in front of him is way too far from the curb. This lawyer was watching out the window and came out of his house. If you do things like that, A Mind That Suits suggest you take stock of your life.

A Mind That Suits himself is going through an annual change: the semester is over, and summer school is few weeks off. The much cherished delay in leaving the coffee shop is more a sign of spring to him than the first robin, who has not made it yet that he can see. He sprung for the $2 overtime parking fee so he could linger over his Journal and adding up the final grades. It's striking what a difference of a few minutes makes. At 8:45, you are certain to be stuck in the numerous little bottlenecks that lurk around the city. At 9:00, you just drive across town as if it were midnight. Except at midnight, you can't enjoy just how beautiful this city is.

To return to the historical fact that Maryland considered the land which it donated for nation's capital to be "useless:" A Mind That Suits is reminded of the first joke he heard from Mark Russell, the local political comedian who is more amusing than brilliantly funny. But that first joke, with which he used to open his tourist friendly show at the old Shoreham Hotel, has stayed with A Mind That Suits for over 20 years. "Welcome to Washington: Two and a half million people doing badly that which need not be done at all."

I think we passed the three and half million mark some time ago, and are comfortably headed toward 4. Many of those newcomers are drawn by a social environment where it is considered normal to look out your window, waiting for opportunities to be nasty. Ah, well.

Have a wonderful Thursday.


::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 12:13 PM



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What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

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