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Border Skirmish: The Story So Far

I see that interjurisdictonal rivalry has raised its ugly head already. Comments ALLDCAnge: "I thought this was a contest re 'Washingtonness,' not Alexandria-ness or any other SUBURB you may wanna throw in." Responds MfromAlexVa: "well excuuuuse meeeee!"

People, people. Let's rise above this. Remember how in "Independence Day" all the nations of the Earth came together to fight off the alien invaders? That should be our goal here. People in Petworth shouldn't be sniping against people in Arlington. We should recognize that the true enemies are those who, like the space monsters of "Independence Day," come from afar and make no attempt to understand us before ripping open our skulls and supping on our brains: the politicians.

I'm not surprised that this has come up. Partly it's a problem of nomenclature. "Washington" describes a specific city but it's also shorthand for the entire area. The Washington Redskins attract supporters from Bowie and Annandale. The Washington Post is read in Fairfax and Forestville. Perhaps that should be the contest: to come up with a term that encompasses all the peoples of the region.

But it isn't. The contest is to explore what it means to be Washingtonian, in the broadest sense of that word. Here on my blog today we're just kicking around those qualities that cross borders, that make us more similar than different. I'm ready to announce that the Jerry's Ford ad--and the belief that one cannot make a deal that one cannot see--is the glue that binds us together.

Do people in New York City have these arguments? I suppose so, although I don't think the people who live in Manhattan resent the people who live outside Manhattan as much as some District residents resent non-city residents. I think New Yorkers who live "in the city" feel sorry for those who don't. I don't think that's what's going on here.

In other news, Louis Caplan was first to name today's mystery Washington landmark. It was the Washington Monument. A set of Post Pulitzer autographs (I just snagged some nice Dana Priests) are on their way to Louis.

By John Kelly  |  October 20, 2008; 2:19 PM ET
 | Tags: Washington, contest  
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Comments

In Chicago they call it "Chicagoland". Why not Washingtonland? Dana Priest's? How about Weingarten or Perlstein? Collect the whole set.

Posted by: jimward21 | October 20, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

but john, it's the left bank vs. right bank of the potomac feud that defines a lot of what happens here every day. we can't ignore that entirely!

Posted by: IMGoph | October 20, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Why does Washington have an Egyptian obelisk in the center of town? I just read a biography of Augustus, the first Roman emperor, and when he took a trip to Cleopatra's Alexandria he realized what a backwater Rome was compared to a City with a capital C. The first thing he did when he came home was to import some obelisks. The American Cincinnatus deserved no less.

Posted by: jimward21 | October 20, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

A little off topic but yet relevant... the hyperlinks in the blog take us away from WP.com. Twice today I hit the close button by mistake and had re-open my browser and click back to the blog page. If the links opened a separate window, we readers would never leave your site (until we were good and ready, at least). :-)

Posted by: CAlovesVA | October 20, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Your comment yesterday about who went to the 9:30 Club when it was still at 9:30 F street made me think of several other Washington landmarks of that ilk: who shopped at G Street Fabrics when it was still on G Street? How about who attended the 19th Street Baptist Church when it was still on 19th Street? And while the street name wasn't in its store name, who had coffee at the Silver Spring Tastee Diner when it was still in its iconic location at the corner of Georgia and Wayne?! (I know *you* did, John - it was the only place open all night after seeing a show at the 9:30 Club.) These places aren't long-gone nostalgia, but a kind of bizarre urban (suburban?) morphing.

Posted by: rpkelly | October 21, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

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