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Welcome, Alien Overlords: Free Speech on the Metro

Did you see the kerfuffle on The Post letters page on Saturday? A reader is upset because of ads in the Metro Center subway station for a new videogame called Fallout 3. The posters show a post-apocalyptic Washington overrun by freaks and mutants. In other words, Adams Morgan after the bars close.

The reader wants the ads removed, arguing that "we do not need a daily reminder that Washington is a prime target for an attack." He then says that the ads are not protected by the First Amendment because they "do not present a true viewpoint or political message."

I'm not a lawyer but I'm pretty sure the First Amendment is a little broader than that. Anything short of calling "mutant!" in a crowded theater is allowed.

The game was developed by a local company, Bethesda Softworks, and I think it takes an affection for a place to destroy it as lovingly as they did D.C. They seem to be a creative bunch: The game is set in a future Washington as imagined from the past. This little video intro illustrates their "future nostalgia." And this one shows how they envision making our Metro commute more, um, pleasant. I don't play video games but I sort of wish I did now, just to see what I can recognize in the rubble of my hometown.

Footnote: A few months ago Britain's Daily Mail newspaper reported that some stills from Fallout 3 were the work of terrorists intent on illustrating what Washington would look like after a nuclear attack. Silly British mutant journalists.

In Other News
The Redskins won, though not very convincingly. I'm enjoying this season. I can feel good for the team when they win and when they lose I can revel in some lovely schadenfreude, knowing that Dan Snyder must be fuming... The Shakespeare Theatre is taking its Free for All inside, leaving Carter Barron Amphitheatre behind. That's a shame, since I always enjoyed the Bard al fresco. Something like "Twelfth Night" or "A Midsummer Night's Dream" under the stars--even with the threat of rain--was sublime... Hurry! Get your guns now! Before the election!... Or, if not a regular gun, how about a stun gun? I love this story from the Examiner on the 81-year-old owner of a D.C. news stand who was allegedly openly displaying stun guns for sale.

This Week's Contest
Time for our weekly contest. Can you identify this Washington-area landmark, pictured here in a vintage post card (courtesy of David Stinson)?


E-mail me your guess: The first correct answer I receive wins a set of Washington Post Pulitzer winner's autographs.

By John Kelly  |  October 27, 2008; 8:08 AM ET
 | Tags: Metro, contest  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Friday Grab Bag: Getting Behind Obama and McCain
Next: What's in a Name? Adding Words to Our Vocabulary


I think having a game based in DC is fun, and I'm thinking about getting it just based upon that!

I liked your column on the ninja mouse, as my roommates and I seem to also have one. Lets hope this isn't a huge invasion of clever, and cruel - the brownies, ouch - rodents!

Posted by: TerpPhysicist | October 27, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

The preoccupation of quite a few Washingtonians with the Redskins, in victory and defeat, is a phenomenon. It is not unusual for the halls of the Library of Congress to resound with informed comment on the ins and outs of the latest game. There are occasions one forgets that this is a political town, on which subject there was an interesting article in Sunday's Style section of the Post.

Posted by: cktirumalai | October 27, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

I can see Mr. Anzalone didn't grow up in Washington, DC.

Growing up here in the 1970's and 1980's, the running joke was when you heard the emergency air sirens, run outside and as close to the Pentagon as you could. Then breathe deep when you saw the flash, because no one wanted to survive nuclear winter.

A video game depicting a post-nuclear war destroyed DC? I probably went to school with these guys. Makes me want to play video games, too.

DC is the symbol of American democracy (as shaky as that may be at present), like NYC is the symbol of American capitalism. Sort of a no-brainer to show it all blown up as part of a video game.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | October 27, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I, for one, disagreed with that letter writer. We do need daily reminders that something like this could happen in DC, especially on the Metro. After all, bad things have happened to other mass transit systems throughout the world. A little vigilance isn't bad.

Posted by: LionelMandrake | October 27, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

I disagreed with the letter writer. The ads are alot more pleasant than the ads for the dead bodies exhibition or the last ones with the hippos (Fred, your ass is getting huge) That one offended me - these not at all.

Posted by: lkop56 | October 27, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

For keeping the mice away use mothballs. One crawled into my car engine and chewed the wire for the airbags. 2 garages have told me about mothballs, so far so good!

Posted by: mslssd | October 27, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

I drives me crazy when the TV newscasts lead off with a story about the Redskins game that day. Ten people could have been killed in a drive-by shooting, or we invaded some country again, but the news of the Redskins' fortunes is more important. All of the local stations do it. Misplaced priorities!

Posted by: Slinger61 | October 27, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

I, for one, welcome the freaks and mutants. Maybe they can replace the lawyers, politicians, bums, and crackheads that currently inhabits our city.

Posted by: simonsaid | October 27, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

John, I still think live traps are the way to go. I've had good success with the kind that are based on a teeter-totter principle, that trap the mouse inside when he goes in after the bait. Also, put them along the walls where you think he is traveling.

You do need to go a mile or so away before releasing them. In other words, I suggest Rock Creek park rather than Sligo.

Posted by: Epigon | October 27, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Hey John - I was catching up on back episodes of This American Life and ran across the Better Mousetrap episode from earlier this month:

It sounds like you have/had some exceptional vermin. The Long Tail indeed.

Posted by: MCVitaminD | October 27, 2008 8:20 PM | Report abuse

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