City Desk

Is D.C. Down a Superhero?


D.C. may be getting a little less attention from a masked avenger sworn to defend it. Most people in the District combat crime by being "eyes on the street," ready to call 911 whenever a thug snatches an iPhone, but a few do more. They don tights and cape and roam the streets as colorfully clad instruments of justice.

DC's Guardian is a "real life superhero" who hits District streets in order to foil the plans of bad guys by walking around, passing out safety fliers, and seeking missing people. According to an article appearing in this month's GQ he stalks "troubled areas behind the Capitol building" in his stars-and-stripes outfit. "What I noticed was everyone was waiting for someone else to do something," he told NPR of the genesis of his patrols. Interested in tagging along, City Desk has been trying to contact the Guardian since Wednesday. We began to wonder if D.C. had lost its champion.
A colleague of  D.C.'s Guardian, Prime Penguin, who is based outside Philadelphia, says catching the Guardian is difficult. ”It's an issue," says Penguin.

Penguin, who declined to give his real name or the Guardian's real name because of the whole secret identity thing, is a member of the Skiffytown League of Heroes. The Guardian is the president of the non-profit, which supplies superheroes for charity events. Unlike the Guardian, who walks a beat, Penguin and other members of Skiffytown are strictly performers.

In any event, Penguin explains the Guardian hasn't been in a great position to perform superheroic feats for his city of late. A year and a half ago, his job transferred him to an undisclosed location far from the District. He gets back when he can, says Penguin: "I know he's back several times a year." Penguin says the Guardian has an intense job and is struggling to maintain both of his identities.

If you're a nerd like me, you grew up pondering getting fitted for a cape one day and striking down neighborhood villains. I can't help admiring the Guardian. If he's bogged down by work commitments these days, here's hoping another will rise in his place.

Photo by Esparta via Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0

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  • 3stars somebars

    Behind the Capitol?

  • Willis

    There was just a special about real life so-called super heroes on HBO this past week. Some of them are Black Belts and Kickboxers.

  • dude

    I always wanted to get a magic lasso like WonderWoman (and my uncle who was an exceptional rodeo rider) and the bullet deflecting bracelets ... and the invisible jet... and a handsome studly war hero to befriend. I got one of those. My parents didn't protest too much because we lived in the Bay Area and they have always been uncannily unflappable.

  • Prime Penguin

    What I actually said was that The Skiffytown League of Heroes are a children's charity that perform at Children's Hospitals and work other charity events such as holiday toy drives and run children's services at conventions..

    Great reporting Mr. Smith

  • NorthCoast Wing

    Mr Penguin, you really shouldn't sass the reporter for the manner in which he wrote his piece when you in fact provided inaccurate information.

  • Geena

    Wow. I'm not entirely sure how to feel about any of this. I like the idea of a children's charity that dresses like superheroes to go visit kids--but definitely not crazy about the way Mr. Penguin reacted to the article he was quoted in himself.

    Check the attitude, please. No one wants to invite an elitist group. I'll stick with the 501st.

  • Prime Penguin

    NorthCoast Wing, I suppose you have a recording of the interview?

    Didn't think so.....

    your motives are once again..transpearent.

  • Geena

    Mr. Smith, I'm sorry I got side tracked in my original comment.

    This was a lovely article about the loss of a figure in DC. I don't know much about "real life superhero-ism" but I always find it a joy to see people doing things out of the ordinary. The costumes-in-public make me smile and I find that pretty heroic.

    Thank you.

  • Friend of The Maryland Defenders

    @ Willis- Yes, HBO recently aired the documentary "Superheroes". DC's Guardian was actually part of that documentary in the last few moments during the Homeless Outreach at Comic Con.

    He's a great guy and it's sad how Prime is representing both DC and their organization. DC's a close personal friend and does many wonderful things either as an individual or with a group.

    Mr Smith, thank you for taking the time to write about DC. DC is sort of everywhere so I'm sure he'll be seen around The Capitol again.

    You may also be interested in checking out some other friends of DC's who do some great work in the Region. Their focus is more on Animal rescue though. They have several members in the state of Maryland and operate several locations for rescued animals.
    Currently, Sanctuary has several furbabies in need of forever homes. Please, pass the word along to help these wonderful adoptee's find their way to new permanant homes.

  • Brutally Honest

    After reading some of the reader comments, it sounds like some 'heroes' have a case of sour grapes because they want more recognition or glory. Since when do heroes brag about their deeds? If you want the world to see you as heroes, act like heroes and you won't have to spend so much time trying to explain to us that you are heroes.

  • Midground

    If I might make an observation, I would like to point out that Mr. Penguin's first comment is not necessarily sarcastic in nature. It can be read as a simple clarification, in which case the final line could be a sincere comment pertaining to the rest of the article. It is only after others call it "sass" that the comment seems to take on a less-than-heroic "attitude." I would invite everyone to consider that text is open to interpretation, and that just because one reads a comment as snide does not mean it was intended to be. ^_^