Chatter: Lower the Boom
What you said about what we said last week
Barely a week seems to pass these days without another national publication throwing shade on D.C.’s economic fortitude. But is D.C. really a vampire squid sucking on the American taxpayer in order to build more wine bars and luxury car dealerships? Of course not, argued Aaron Wiener in last week’s Housing Complex column: D.C.’s main industry may be the federal government, but in recent years it’s become less, not more, dependent on jobs in the federal orbit.
So why the hate? One commenter wasn’t convinced it’s because critics of D.C. have conflated the city with its environs. “Even with state boundaries getting in the way, the city and the region are functionally the same thing,” commented Just Up the Pike blogger Dan Reed. “If D.C. was an island with 600,000 people in it, there wouldn’t be any talk of ‘boomtown’ to begin with. It’s only because it sits at the core of a region of 5.5 million (8 million if you count Greater Baltimore) that it even merits a negative mention from the Ross Douthats and Sean Hannitys of the world. The issue isn’t that these columnists lump in a Maserati dealership in Germantown with D.C. (even if the cool kids in D.C. would never associate with Germantown), but that they ignore/misunderstand the social diversity and economic versatility of D.C. and the region as a whole.”
Reader Not Impressed detected some irony in the criticisms of D.C. “When things weren’t going so well in D.C., these asshats and blowhards said it was just more proof that we were incapable of self-government. Now that things are going well in D.C., these same asshats and blowhards are saying that it’s not because we’re doing things right, but because we’re leeches or some shit like that.”
Others argued that Wiener failed to account for the growth in D.C.’s lobbying sector. Reader Payton pushed back: “Lobbying expenditures have grown, but amount to less than 1 percent of a $433 billion regional economy. Yes, it probably has an outsized contribution to the top end of the market. Over the long term, this region has certainly benefitted from good planning, e.g., Metro, transit-oriented development, trails along rivers and streams, almost no freeways tearing apart the city, steering downtown office growth east rather than letting it take over Dupont, etc.”
Speed the Crowd
Last week’s Young & Hungry column pondered why so many restaurants in D.C.’s busiest restaurant corridors remain crowded when so many new restaurants have opened in recent months. The response? Lots of doomspeaking.
“Blame it on the drones: the wave of new folks that are told where to eat and what to do based on some silly magazine or social media push,” commented Radd22. “D.C. has become filled with robots that follow the herd rather than try something different or supposedly uncool.”
“The current deification of chefs has made people lose their minds,” wrote Mario. “A 1.5 hour wait at Matchbox?! Are you on drugs? The food is fine, sometimes really good, but that is insane.”
Reader DCindy suggested the District’s culture of waiting for a table is self-perpetuating: “I’m not sure why anyone agrees to wait in line for a table at an expensive restaurant...My advice: Decide where you want to eat and make a reservation. In this age of smartphones, it’s pretty easy to make a reservation even at the last minute. If more people simply refused to wait for an hour to be seated, restaurants would become more efficient, and those who don’t take reservations would have to start doing so.”
Department of Corrections
Due to a reporting error, last week’s cover story on the Hirshhorn Museum’s proposed Bubble project misidentified a Smithsonian marketing slogan; it is “Seriously Amazing,” not “Simply Amazing.” The Young & Hungry column also contained two reporting errors. It incorrectly stated that Little Serow is a James Beard Award winner; in fact, its chef, Johnny Monis, received a Beard Award this year, but for his work at sister restaurant Komi. Also, the article incorrectly reported that Granville Moore’s opened in 2005; it opened in 2007.