City Desk

The Needle: Plácido, We Hardly Knew You Edition

Adios, Plácido: Local opera company seeks new artistic director and general director. Tenor singing voice, fluency in Spanish a plus; must not enjoy long walks on the beach, at least not if the beach is in Los Angeles. For that's where Plácido Domingo has fled Washington National Opera for, after 14 years in D.C., the last several split with the Los Angeles Opera. Domingo extended his contract in L.A. for another two years, and told WNO he wasn't coming back. Just like a diva. -2

Automobile Arson Association: A month after cars are torched under strange circumstances along 16th Street, authorities finally admit what everyone else had already realized—something weird is going on. Police and fire officials are investigating who has set fire to at least five cars near Columbia Heights and Mt. Pleasant in the last few weeks, mostly late at night. Tip for anyone planning to buy a new car soon: Decline the undercoating, but do take the dealer up if they offer fireproofing. -2

Trains Run On Time: The Red Line's Union Station tops the list of busiest Metro stations, with more than 32,000 on an average weekday. Friendship Heights, with fewer than 10,000 riders, comes in last. Apparently Ted's Montana Grill is a bigger draw than Neiman Marcus. Also, apparently people who live in Chevy Chase aren't real big on public transit. Raise your hand if this surprises you. -1

More Weather Nonsense: Why not add a tropical storm to the list of absurd extreme weather phenomena we've suffered through this year? Tropical Depression 16, soon to be named Tropical Storm Nicole, is expected to pass through the D.C. region on Thursday, bringing along heavy rains, strong winds, and a renewed sense that someone out there—either God, or at the Weather Channel—really doesn't like the District much. On the plus side, Metro announced that SmarTrip cards will be accepted to board arks. -3

Yesterday's Needle rating: 54 Today's score: -8 Today's Needle rating: 46

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  • Sam

    Surely Friendship Heights doesn't have the lowest ridership of any station in the system--it's pretty well frequented, and definitely busier than some of the PG County stations, for example. I think the Washington Business Journal must have meant Friendship Heights was the least busy of the 25 busiest stations, which would make it 25th busiest out of 86 stations.

  • ES

    Huh? Today's drive-by doesn't factor into the Needle rating today?

  • Mike Madden

    We don't really factor murders into the Needle—seems a little callous, even for us, to put a pseudo-scientific number rating on someone's death.