Ask a European About Washington, D.C.; 4) A Bulgarian
Washington City Paper: What's your name?
Svetoslav Ilchiv: Svetoslav Ilchiv.
How old are you?
Have you heard of Marion Barry, the former mayor of Washington, D.C.?
Never. Is it a man or a woman?
He is very much a man.
I do not know him.
Well, ok. [Here, your correspondent explains Mr. Barry's repeated run-ins with the law—his drug arrest, fall from grace, redemption campaign, etc.] So, what do you think of that?
I think he's corrupted.
But do you think he's good or bad?
Does he do a good job? [Your correspondent, contemplating Mr. Barry's strange legacy—civil rights leader, tax evader, Ward 8 icon, womanizer—does not know the answer to the question, and so does not reply.] Possibly it's bad...Is he a rehabilitated? If he is, that's kind of good. When you put it that way.
What do you think about when you think of Washington?
A big city. International. Cosmopolitan. Dirty, probably.
When I say "Washington, D.C.," what is the image in your mind?
The Pentagon. The White House. The great monument to the President on the $5 bill.
Lincoln? You know about Lincoln?
A little bit. He did the Civil War. He's from the North. He won the war. He ended slavery.
Do you think that's good or bad?
It was about time.
ALSO OF INTEREST IN PLOVDIV, BULGARIA...
I quote from Lonely Planet Eastern Europe, 10th edition (Sept. 2009), Mara Vorhees, ed., p. 164:
"Another new cult character popular these days is the bearded 'Stefchu Avtografa,' who is trying to get into the Guinness Book of World Records for most autographs. Don't be surprised if he finds you. To quote one local: 'He's not exactly normal, but we love him.'"
N.B.: Mr. Avtografa did indeed find your correspondent and now has his autograph.