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The NoVa vs. RoVa Storm

A Style section riff this week on the cultural differences between northern Virginia (NoVa) and the rest of Virginia (RoVa) will be remembered both for its excellent coinage of RoVa and for the stink that resulted when humor-impaired readers (both inside the Post newsroom and around the commonwealth) cried foul.

The original riff had some good lines:

In NoVa, people spend their dough at Starbucks, shooting the breeze. In RoVa, people spend time in the breeze, shooting does and bucks.

In NoVa, they listen to NPR. In RoVa, they listen to the NRA.

· NoVa has Crate & Barrel. RoVa has Cracker Barrel.

In RoVa, they like freshly killed venison. In NoVa, they like Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

And there were a few groaners:

In RoVa, they hope the South will rise again. In NoVa, they hope the souffle will.

· In NoVa, a lab is the family dog. In RoVa, a lab is the family meth business.

But even if some of the humor was lame, the extent of the rage that flowed back from readers seemed a bit of an overreaction. Some of the critics at least had a sense of humor:
"Good to see that Rural-bashing and the classic urban bigotry is alive and well. Just about what I would expect from people willing to sit in traffic for hours every day to drive 10 miles to and from work," wrote one reader.

More of the comments were along these lines: "What next? Ethnic jokes. This truly disgusts me." And this: "This article is juvenile and uncalled for. Its a slap in the face to all of Virginia. To me, it borders on racism, and is reflective of the snooty attitude the Style Section has shown for years. What makes you think you're so superior?" And this: "How stupid is the WP to bite the hand that feeds it? There are many in NoVa with roots in RoVa. As one, I am disgusted and offended by this juvenile and ignorant article."

A blogger over at US News accused the Post Stylistas of drawing too sharp a distinction between NoVa and RoVa. He, for example, lives comfortably in both worlds: "I work in Georgetown but hunt deer and geese (in my backyard, no less), own an old pickup and 1950 Farmall Cub (that's a tractor, Posties), grow and eat blackberries (the fruit), raise bees, have a lab (dog), eat at Cracker Barrel, and worse: My wife and I actually go to Friday night football games to watch our daughter play in the marching band. How RoVa is that? But I also like Calvert-Woodley liquors, Metro, and Butterfield 9."

I think we need more, not less, poking fun across our various jurisdictional boundaries in this region. When the Post's polls have shown consistently in recent days that NoVa and RoVa are in separate realities when it comes to the Senate race, the same-sex marriage constitutional amendment, and the traffic problem, that's high time to get into the nitty-gritty of the little cultural and quotidian differences that define life in these various parts.

Disagree? Let's hear why. But if you agree, surely you can all collectively top our jokes, so have at it: Let's hear some more about what divides NoVa from RoVa.

By Marc Fisher |  October 20, 2006; 7:37 AM ET
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

I take ROVA of NOVA anyday. NOVA has a bunch of overeducated techies that treat folks working the trades like scum. Little do they realize that when they pay BMW of Sterling $118.00 an hr for labor that the tech is getting half that and makes more then they do a year without $80k in student loans. The average tech at a BMW , Benz or Lexus dealership in area makes a $130k. As soon as I can tele commute I am getting out of the area. Buying 30 acres and 50 sheep for my collies. And NOVAs own Labs and Goldies two of the dumbest breeds of dogs on the planet. Cant do what they were bred to do because it has been bred out of them. Too stupid to think for themselves. And then there are the foo foo breeds Pekinese, Yorkies etc. These dogs make excellent snacks for real working dogs.Lived in NOVA since I was 13yo. Shame overeducated birkenstock wearing, non leg shaving idiot liberal like Marc have take over.

Posted by: Vaherder | October 20, 2006 8:02 AM

I thought it reflected badly, but accurately, on the self-absorbed staff of the Post's Style section. You see it as "poking fun" but the Washintgon-centric bias was clear: we are better than you.

What might be useful is more of an attempt to understand and appreciate the other side's opinions and values and less ridiculing them. If that can be done with humor, then roll it out. But the Post's ridicule and condescension, badly masked as humor, is nothing more than ridicule and condescension with lipstick on.

Posted by: Accomac | October 20, 2006 8:27 AM

People take these comments far too personally and seriously. There's always a distinction between city folk & country folk, and the point is to to make fun of the difference rather than let it set a rift. Aren't we all Americans, or at the very least, PEOPLE??

Posted by: GettingtheJoke | October 20, 2006 8:27 AM

You shave your legs like a manly conservative? I'm not judging your lifestyle, but in what part of RoVA is that fashionable these days?

Posted by: athea | October 20, 2006 8:27 AM

I'm not from RoVA or NoVA and I thought it was funny. They weren't any more offensive than the South Dakotan jokes told in Montana or the Aggie jokes told in Texas.

People need to lighten up more than a little bit. Sometimes, humor is required to sort through the political BS and get to the root of the problem. The root of this problem is that the lifestyle in NoVA is vastly different from that of the RoVA. So are the problems and solutions to those problems.

Besides, poking fun at NoVA for spending too much money at Starbucks is hardly complimentary.

Posted by: single but denied | October 20, 2006 8:42 AM

I didn't realize that men that don't shave their legs are liberal. Heck, does that mean if we don't shave our chests we're outright commies?

And the suggestion that everyone in NoVA are overeducated snobby techies is just as big a simplification as saying that the rest of Virginia is filled with mouth-breathers.

And you are really thinking of buying 50 sheep to entertain your dogs? Pets for your pets? That sounds a bit yuppie to me.

Posted by: Hillman | October 20, 2006 9:03 AM

I though it was great! We have got to take things more lightly. Of course RoVA is beautiful, with its rolling hills, the Blue Ridge mountains, the planted fields... Of course NoVA folks are (mostly) snooty! I would add one more lame joke:
In RoVa, people practice true religion. In NoVa, people wear it.

Posted by: Mayra | October 20, 2006 9:05 AM

It wasn't that funny and reminded me of an e-mail forward. If The Post is going to do this kind of thing, they ought to at least do it well.

Also, all of these overeducated techies are subsidizing the rest of the commonwealth via taxes. If NoVa is so offensive, lobby your elected officials to stop using the taxes we contribute in your communities.

Posted by: WFY | October 20, 2006 9:18 AM

I grew up and live in Fairfax, went to undergrad in Charlottesville and lived in Richmond for a few years - so I think its fair to say I can understand where both sides are coming from. But come on people, its a joke. If you are truly "disgusted" by this article, then I think you have too much time on your hands and need to worry about more important matters in the world. Lighten up people. My God. Oh, and to the previous poster - I do drive a BMW, am happy to hear that techs can make $130k a year, but can assure you that he does not make more than I do. Good day.

Posted by: Doug | October 20, 2006 9:20 AM

Wow, how shocking that people in 'RoVA' were offended. I'm sure nobody at the Post saw that coming. Slow news week?

Posted by: Jennifer, DC | October 20, 2006 9:24 AM

I wasn't offended by the piece. It just wasn't funny. It was also clearly written by NoVa/DC authors. It seemed to make fun of RoVa without doing the same to NoVa. When it comes off as a slam piece, it loses what little humor there was.

Posted by: J | October 20, 2006 9:31 AM

In NoVa moms all drive their kids to play soccer. In RoVa moms all drive their kids to say macaca.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 20, 2006 9:31 AM

I thought it was an amusing article. My wife and I live in NoVa and are 'techies', but both have our roots in the RoVa lifestyles of our parents.

We live the NoVa style because we have to to not only survive in this area but to also care for our families. I'm looking forward to when I can return to the RoVa lifestyle and finally get a chance to relax and enjoy life again!

Posted by: Joe | October 20, 2006 9:34 AM

I can't wait for the comparison between the D.C. suburbs of Maryland and the Baltimore suburbs...that should be hi-larious! And I'm being totally serious about that too...

BTW, Marc wasn't it you who some years back wrote a column about the differences between MD/VA/DC based on three animal control reports about pigeons?

Posted by: Adams Morgan | October 20, 2006 9:39 AM

I agree with "J" that it wasn't that funny, and it made fun of "RoVa" without doing the same to "NoVa". I wouldn't say I was offended, but I didn't think it really contributed to anything. It doesn't "cut through the BS" like Marc wants it to, because it was one-sided. It wasn't people from the Post (most of whom probably live in DC or Md anyways) trying to understand southern Va through humor, it came across more like, "Look at how much northern Va is like us, which is good, and look at how weird and foreign the rest of the state is. Ew." It would have helped if whoever wrote it hadn't painted the rest of Va with such a broad brush of Deep South charicatures.

But mostly, it was just poorly written and not necessarily true.

Posted by: OD | October 20, 2006 9:45 AM

There's definitely a difference between NoVa and RoVa, and I think it's because most of us in NoVa came from someplace else. Of all my friends, I only know ONE who was born and raised in Virginia. I came from Indiana, several came from Pennsylvania, one came from Texas, and one came from Rhode Island. On the other hand, those who live in RoVa seem to have mainly been born and raised there. We've not been forged on the same anvil, so of course we're going to be different.

Posted by: Chantilly, Va | October 20, 2006 9:46 AM

I agree, while some of the quips were humorous, it is the style of content that belongs in a poor chain email rather than a nationaly syndicated newspaper. I first read these bc (before comments) and knew that this brash "journalism" would incite a heavy uproar.

You have succesfully alienated 95% (geographically) or 30% (constituently) of this great commonwealth. In the future I would advise you to proceed more cautiously before throwing your readers under the truck. I have lived all over VA and the only "rag" anyone ever read was the WP. Be proud of this fact as you observe your readership plummet in "rova."

Everyone knows their are differences in our regions, but no one asked you to define them. Wasnt their a concert you should have been covering?

(for the purpose of my response, i did not include loudon county. I am from Fairfax and live in Arlington, the only 2 counties in NOVA.)

Posted by: Jon | October 20, 2006 9:50 AM

The Post still just does not get it. I might direct your attention to the following:
"You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class(!), ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification...."

Why not practice what you preach!
If regional humor is not offensive then let's all tell a few jokes about San Francisco?
I can think of a few. Can I post them?

Posted by: Philip | October 20, 2006 9:50 AM

Are people really THAT upset about this?

It was a weak attempt at humor--get on with your lives.

Posted by: arlington | October 20, 2006 9:57 AM

Good Luck Joe. When I came to DC in 1964 RoVa extebded right to Key Bridge (dairy farm, real cows, large pasture in Rossyln). By 1970 NoVa encompased Arlington, Alexandria, small portions of Prince Willaim (Dale City just completed) and Fairfax. By 1980, people started talking about all the cheap housing one could buy in Manassas, and Loudon and Farquier Counties "aren' that far from DC", etc etc. Where are you going to go Joe? RoVa is getting smaller and smaller all the time.

Posted by: A Hardwick | October 20, 2006 10:01 AM

NoVa, RoVa...who cares? Virginia stinks. Its traffic/concrete and bigots/guns you're choosing between.

Posted by: Double O Zero | October 20, 2006 10:06 AM

I grew up 25 miles south of richmond in a Rural area and attended high school in Richmond. I lived there until I was 18 and went away to college. I have lived in NOVA for 5 years and I don't see that big a difference between Richmond and NOVA other than traffic and the proximity to Museums, etc. Is there really a bigger difference between cities and rural areas in Virginia? Or between NOVA, Central VA, and Southwest VA? I've been in NOVA, Richmond, and the Hampton Roads areas and have not noticed a huge huge difference. However, when I went to visit my sister back when she attended VA Tech...I felt like I was in a whole new world.

Posted by: TH28754 | October 20, 2006 10:08 AM

Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of NoVians who can discuss Tennyson either.

Sorry about your penis, Doug.

Posted by: Ulysses | October 20, 2006 10:10 AM

I still laugh about the MD/DC/VA pigeons article. That was funny and insightful. This NoVa/RoVa thing was extremely weak in comparison. The only thing weaker is the fact that the people complaining that it is not harsh enough on NoVa cannot see that the stylistas are themselves a lampoon of a silly lifestyle. Reminds me of an incident at UVa. I had two roommates - one from Fairfax, one from Orange. Fairfax goes to tell a story about something happening in Culpeper. But, first he pauses to ask in all seriousness, "Stuart, you ever get up to Culpeper?" We laughed at him for months about that. I hope he learned a lesson about his attitude and expect that many of us could learn the same lesson from time to time if we could just see how funny we are in others' eyes.

Heck, maybe with enough humor we could eventually find a way to tear down the Virginia welcome center that stands on I-66 just outside the Fairfax county line.

Posted by: Bob | October 20, 2006 10:10 AM

Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of NoVians who can discuss Tennyson either.

Sorry about your penis, Doug.

Posted by: Ulysses | October 20, 2006 10:12 AM

Sheesh. Some people overreact to every LITTLE thing, but fail to find it offensive when entire swaths of society are being systematically deprived of basic rights and privileges via bigoted constitutional amendments that take out unintended bystanders as well. Thanks for that RoVA because it is the voters in RoVA who will pass it. It would fail if left up to NoVA.

So please pardon me if I don't get all worked up over some low brow humor and focus my energies on more important issues. Has no one ever heard of picking their battles?

Posted by: single but denied | October 20, 2006 10:12 AM

Maybe we should just split off from RoVA and become the Commonwealth of Northern Virginia. Then instead of supporting the entire current Commonwealth of Virginia we can use our money to build decent roads and extend Metro out to Manassas or even Gainesville.

Posted by: Jacquie | October 20, 2006 10:16 AM

I agree that the article's biggest crime was that it just wasn't all that funny. I predict an ombudsman smackdown come this Sunday. LOL

Posted by: CallMeSkeptical | October 20, 2006 10:16 AM

If this is supposed to be journalism, then you journalists need to step back from your laptops and think about what it is you are writing about and why. Are you highlighting cultural differences for the purpose of informing readers about diverse cultures, or are you doing so to ridicule particular cultural traits? There is a big difference. Ridicule is not simply humor. Ridicule of cultural differences is more like bigotry or intolerance than satire or caricature. Please ask yourself, what does intolerance of cultural differences lead to? It leads to extremes. Before you write, think whether you are fanning the fires of intolerance. I think journalists have the responsibility to disseminate understanding, not inhibit it.

Posted by: Bob Crowe | October 20, 2006 10:17 AM

I have lived in both a Northern state and a Southern state, and I get frustrated when Northerners brand Southerners as dumb or ignorant. I think that belief exists because Southerners speak slower - the pace of life is slower in the South, so there is no need to be in a hurry when speaking.

I view the NoVa vs. RoVa split the same way. In rural areas, people grow up in relative isolation. So it's natural for many rural folks to develop a xenophobia regarding unfamiliar people and unfamiliar beliefs. Again, that doesn't mean that rural people are ignorant. It means that fear of change and fear of the unknown can be found to a certain degree in all cultures, and it's very easy to get wrapped up in those beliefs.

I believe that is why fundamentalisim is so strong in rural areas like RoVa. Molly Ivins once said that fundamentalists aren't evil, they're scared. Like all of us, they long for order and stability in a confusing and terrifying world. (Advances in communications technology have much to do with this - rural folks are much more exposed to information about unfamiliar people and unfamiliar beliefs than even 30 years ago.) So they find false comfort and false security in rigid religious dogmas. The same phenomenon drives Islamist fundamentalism, since political and social thought in the Middle East hasn't changed much in the last 600 years.

The same-sex marriage debate is a perfect example. NoVa residents are much more likely to know gay people living openly, and thus get to know them as individuals rather than as some unknown "other". My concern is with the fearmongering politicians who prey upon RoVa residents' fears, warning of some sinister "homosexual agenda."

Posted by: Tonio | October 20, 2006 10:18 AM

A couple years back, Frank Rich of the New York Times did a truly horrendous piece comparing DC and NYC. Full of bizarre rage at DC. Just awful. From that moment, I have sworn off such regionalist nonsense. To the Post: I can't wait for your next editorial claiming that President Bush is walled off from reality. Take a look in the mirror.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 20, 2006 10:35 AM

A couple years back, Frank Rich of the New York Times wrote a truly horrendous piece comparing DC and NYC. Full of bizarre rage at DC. NYC is superior, etc. Just awful. From that moment, I have sworn off such regionalist nonsense. To the Post: I can't wait for your next editorial claiming that President Bush is walled off from reality. Take a look in the mirror.

Posted by: RoVa in mind, NoVa in geography | October 20, 2006 10:36 AM

What was offensive was that the NoVA comments were all sort of cutesie, while the the RoVA ones were extremely hurtful. So it was not making light of differences at all; it was a set up to insult normal, modal people.

Idiot NoVAns need to be honest with themselves that they have little in common with the majority of Americans. Such articles reveal their own self revulsion and feelings of emptiness in their own lives. I think the RoVA could really care less about NoVA and are pretty happy. That's the sad difference.

Posted by: bkp | October 20, 2006 10:45 AM

In NoVa, people want to live their lives and raise their families in whatever way they see fit without harrassment. In RoVa, people want to live their lives and raise their families in whatever way they see fit without harrassment.

Oh, wait.

The problem with the Style piece wasn't that it was unfunny, and wasn't that it was steeped in stereotypes. It was that it was both, at the same time. It was neither amusing nor thought-provoking; it was just a waste of bandwidth.

Posted by: y'all are idiots at the WaPo | October 20, 2006 10:45 AM

The article was just lame and of little value for the print edition. Who was the editor that read that and said, "Yes! This is interesting and engaging news!" a bit childish and better served elsewhere.

RoVA has beautiful lakes and mountains; NoVA has concrete parks and filthy fountains.

NoVA has car fumes and frustrations; RoVA has open roads and Inn at Little Wash. temptations.

Posted by: PLS | October 20, 2006 10:45 AM

Oh, and I forgot - before anyone asks, I'm from DC, born and bred. I like my Starbucks venti chai. I'm just not a moron, that's all.

Posted by: y'all are idiots at the WaPo | October 20, 2006 10:50 AM

I've lived in NoVA for six years and I must say that I greatly prefer RoVA, having grown up in Lynchburg. NoVA is too expensive and snobby, and everyone I meet is a workaholic. In NoVA, people have many acquaintances, but in RoVA, people actually have friendships with their neighbors.

Posted by: Proud RoVA-ite | October 20, 2006 10:54 AM

I took the article to mean that RoVa does not understand NoVa, does not relate in any way to NoVa, and really doesn't care anything about NoVa, nor do they want to. All RoVa cares about and wants to do is to legislate its beliefs on NoVa and spend NoVa's money, and NoVa has been seeing that for years. NoVa really is a completely separate entity from RoVa in every way, and it's time to take seccession much more seriously.

Posted by: Up here in NoVa | October 20, 2006 10:57 AM

Jacquie, good luck with seceding from the Commonwealth. That didn't seem to work out so well the last time someone tried it.

Can't we all just get back to making West Virginia jokes?

Posted by: OD | October 20, 2006 11:00 AM

"I think the RoVA could really care less about NoVA and are pretty happy. That's the sad difference."

Yes bkp, you can afford to be happy because NoVA tax dollars keep RoVA a nice place to live with adequate roads and public facilities. In NoVa, we pay the vast majority of the taxes in this commonwealth and have substandard roadways, inadequate numbers of DMV clerks and offices and ridiculously low funding for services like probation officers compared to RoVA. NoVA residents have every right to be angry. Afterall, they are supporting the rest of this commonwealth with nothing to show for it.

The article wasn't all that flattering to NoVA either, making NoVA look like a bunch of shallow snobs. Of course, you are again giving far too much weight to a very stupid battle. It was a light piece in the Style section of the newspaper. In case anyone has failed to notice, the Style section is not where you go for serious news and is pretty much all opinion. Get over it.

Posted by: Single and denied | October 20, 2006 11:11 AM

I'm a native of Northern Virginia, with lots of relatives in the rest of the commonwealth. I'm happily urban, they sing the praises of the rural life. Yet we manage to get along with each other.

As for the jokes, I found them lame, more urban verses rural, than specific to Virginia.

Posted by: WMA | October 20, 2006 11:14 AM


My collies arent pets but working dogs. Big difference. And sheep aint pets. Will raise them for local butchers nice organic lamb for us meat eaters. Goldies and labs are pets. My collies use their brains and work for a living. Ever had to wrok with sheep. They are mean SOBs that will hurt a dog or human! The first thing we need to do in Va both ROVA and NOVA is ship all our lawyers to DC and MD and make the state lawyer free.

Posted by: Vaherder | October 20, 2006 11:15 AM

Lighten up Virginia.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 20, 2006 11:16 AM

I thought the RoVa and NoVa descriptions was fantastic. Like the red and blue states, it says it all in very few words. I am a NoVA guy, born and raised in New England, but here for 28 years. However, I have a bit of RoVa in me since I own guns (shotgun's and side arms), am a member of the NRA and also a registered Democrat. I hate George Allen since he is a lying-sack-of-S#@t and a worthless aristocrat. I love Jim Webb since he faught in a war I am very familiar with (and participated in) and the fact that his son is now fighting in Iraq in a war I am very opposed to because another lying aristocratic lying-sack-of-S#@t got us into under false pretenses. Also Jim Webb tells it like it is and is more "man" in his little toe than the entire body of Allen. NoVA guys like Jim Webb. RoVa guys like Allen. NoVa guys wear uniforms (i.e. Pentagon and all the other military facilities). RoVa guys wish they could wear uniforms but have the same Pu$$y tendencies as Allen. All show, and no go. NoVA guys pay for most of the good stuff in RoVA (roads, infrastructure, UVA, Radford, Longwood, JMU. VA Tech,VCU, etc). RoVA guys suck off the NoVA guys(roads, infrastructure, UVA, Radford, Longwood, JMU. VA Tech,VCU, etc). Bottom line. I love the NoVA-RoVA designation. It says it all.

Posted by: Chuck | October 20, 2006 11:17 AM

In Rova they say maccaca. In Nova they are full of maccaca.

Posted by: Woodbridge Va | October 20, 2006 11:23 AM

Vaherder, is everyone in Clifton, VA slack-jaw rubes like yourself?

Posted by: MD | October 20, 2006 11:27 AM

Single and Denied, behind the lighthearted jokes in the Style piece is a very serious polarization in American politics. I see it in my home state of Maryland, where Baltimore-Montgomery-Prince George's and Panhandle-Southern Maryland-Eastern Shore might as well be separate states. Some of this is surely due to racism (both anti-black and anti-white), but some of it is also due to incompatible views of the role of government. It's the old idea of liberals favoring limited government in personal matters and activist government in economic matters, with conservatives favoring the opposite.

Posted by: Tonio | October 20, 2006 11:28 AM

Like I said in my comment on the article. In RoVA most of the people were born there. In NoVA most people, or their direct antcedents, have moved here. They're no more Virginians than moving to Germany would make me a German.

Posted by: Stick | October 20, 2006 11:32 AM

I think that the problem is not the differences that divide the rural from the urban, the liberal from the conservative, the religious from the humanist, the problem is our tendancy to magnify and then "celebrate" those differences. Remember the mantra of muliticulturalism, "Celebrate our diversity?" What our culture really does today is celebrate divisiveness, and in his column today Marc Fisher perpetuates this theme in a tongue-in-cheek manner.

What would have been better is to ask readers to comment on what binds rural and urban Virginians together. So I will do that now. Readers of Mr. Fisher's column what binds RoVA and NoVA together?

Posted by: A Friend from Maryland | October 20, 2006 11:52 AM

What binds us together? Disdain for people from Maryland, LOL!! Seriously, though, thanks for your insight, "Friend from Maryland."

Posted by: RoVA Lover | October 20, 2006 11:54 AM

A Friend From Maryland wrote: Readers of Mr. Fisher's column what binds RoVA and NoVA together?

In NoVA they tell West Virginia jokes
In RoVA they tell West Virginia jokes

Someone who posted earlier said that RoVA is getting smaller all the time. That is correct. It was not too long ago that Prince William was considered redneck and Manassas was known as Manasty. Taken a look at housing prices in PW recently? The dominos are falling, folks -- Loudoun, Prince William, Stafford, Fauquier... Time to face reality. NoVA is coming and you can't stop it.

Someone else said that RoVA has the Inn at Little Washington. That is true, but the Inn's Virginian patrons are from NoVA. The Inn's employees are from RoVa.

Posted by: Loudoun Voter | October 20, 2006 12:09 PM

I thought the whole thing was basically the same attitude that you have in any big city (New York, Philly, Chicago) toward the rest of the state (Upstate, Western PA, Downstate). Sometimes it's funny, sometimes it's not.

The difference is that New York, Philly, and Chicago are cities with their own culture and things to make fun of. Northern Virginia is just an agglomeration of suburbs with not much history or character. So what can you poke fun at other than they're rich?

Posted by: JW in RoVA | October 20, 2006 12:15 PM

People in RoVa can read? C'mon. I'd rather live in RoVa any day then be a Baltimoron. We live in Northern Virginia, where the jokes are lame, and the people are lamer.

Posted by: dave | October 20, 2006 12:19 PM

The problem with the article is that it's not about people light-heartedly taking shots at each other across this divide. Many RoVa readers believe that no one on the Style staff has ever ventured farther south than Potomac Mills, so it reads like city people making fun of country folk.

The fact that the city people include pokes at NoVa doesn't help the tone, because the perception is that the NoVa gibes are done out of love, while the RoVa gibes reflect contempt. Imagine if a bunch of white Post writers had written a set of jokes structured as "White people do X; Black people do Y." This would almost certainly be seen as offensive, despite the fact that jokes about whites were included.

Posted by: Tom T. | October 20, 2006 12:38 PM

"I thought it reflected badly, but accurately, on the self-absorbed staff of the Post's Style section. You see it as "poking fun" but the Washington-centric bias was clear: we are better than you."

The Style section had the same sort of snotty, unfunny thing a few months ago, when the U.S. News college rankings came out ( The Post's ties with Harvard on the news side have long been known; apparently that's not the only section of the paper where such class snobbery takes place. Heaven forbid if you went to the "wrong" school, particularly a public college, and want to work at the Post; you'd have to be twice as talented as your Ivy rivals to even be considered, much less hired.

Yes, there are cultural differences between northern Virginia and the rest of the state -- I know as a current Prince William resident who has previously resided in Front Royal and Waynesboro. But northern Virginians are not all stuck-up outsiders, nor are all Shenandoah Valley residents fundamentalist hunting redneck types. (Heck, a Starbucks opened in Waynesboro last year.)

Posted by: Vincent | October 20, 2006 12:41 PM

Absolutely agree. Our society suffers from a serious lack of good-natured humor about our quirks and misunderstandings. We've sanitized everyday conversation to the extent that it has become colorless and bland. And then, when we give comedians license to poke fun at people, it turns truly nasty and we defend it as a courageous stand for free speach (when all it really is is stupid playground name calling). Someday our grandchildren will look back on us and laugh (goodnaturedly, I hope).

Posted by: Anonymous | October 20, 2006 12:42 PM

Tonio, behind the jokes in that piece is the same city v. rural attitude that has been a part of this country since its inception. Quit giving it more importance than it deserves. The polarization of American politics is a far more serious issue that has little to do with jokes about city slickers and rednecks. If anything, it points out little or nothing more than an Aggie joke or West Virginia joke points out. In all likelihood, had the Post substituted WV and VA for RoVa and NoVA, none of these people would be pitching the ringtailed fits they are.

People are upset about nothing. Again, I'll point out that there are REAL issues to get worked up over as opposed to getting one's knickers in a twist over a few column inches of lowbrow humor in the Style section of a newspaper. Would you like a list?

Posted by: Single and denied | October 20, 2006 12:45 PM

In Rova they know thier ancestery for the past 300 years. In Nova they know one of their parents.

Posted by: Woodbridge Va | October 20, 2006 12:47 PM

NoVa, RoVa, whatevah. It's traitors all the way down.

When you expunge Lee, Beauregard & co. from your school & street names, then we can talk.

Up the Republic!

Posted by: Union Forever | October 20, 2006 12:55 PM

Maybe we wouldn't have to celebrate Confederate generals if you yankees had never invaded the Commonwealth.

All it takes is some travelling around the state to appreciate and celebrate the differences. Of course, I was told by a friend in school that I wasn't a real Virginian, bc no one north of Fredericksburg is really from Va. So it looks like northern Va is a little more reflective of both the rural and suburban than maybe the Style section captured.

Posted by: HS | October 20, 2006 1:06 PM

Laugh about the other Virginia while also laugh at your own skewered yourself. That's the difference between humor and bullying. Lighten up folks.

Posted by: a NoVAer | October 20, 2006 1:18 PM

Single and Denied, you have valid points about the eteral city-versus-rural divide. I don't get particularly worked up over redneck jokes, especially since there are plenty of people who use the term for themselves.

Having said that, I worry that the divide is becoming worse and could potentially lead to another civil war, over an issue such as same-sex marriage. Politicians exploit the divide by appealing to both sides' sense of victimization and resentment, thus perpetuating and worsening the divide. In my reading about the civil rights era, it's scary to see the murderous invective used by rural Southerners against "interfering big-city liberals." One of those "interlopers" was Jonathan Daniels, who sacrified himself to fight racism.

Posted by: Tonio | October 20, 2006 1:25 PM

"In Rova they know thier ancestery for the past 300 years. In Nova they know one of their parents."

Five of the top ten worst child support evaders in VA are from RoVA. The other five are out of state. Would you care to rethink that one? I think parents abandoning their kids cuts across regional lines.

Posted by: Single and denied | October 20, 2006 1:26 PM

but the civil rights era didn't lead to civil war.

that being said, I do think there are some scary comparisons to be made between the current political climate and that of 1850s America. But I feel like gay marriage, as heated as the rhetoric gets, isn't really "important" enough to lead us to civil war. Possibly all of our cultural differences in the aggregate, but then you also lose the clear-cut division. Where is that divide? I guarantee you it's more complicated than just dividing northern and southern Va.

Posted by: OD | October 20, 2006 1:29 PM

Tonio, you are way oversimplifying the political divide. It has very little to do with rural v. city attitudes and much more to do with religious v. non-religious issues, more liberal views on the function of government v. conservative ones, etc. Almost none of that falls neatly along regional lines and if Sept. 11 and Katrina proved anything, it proved that all differences and jokes aside, Americans pull together in times of crisis.

I agree that the political schism that divides this country is causing a crisis, but jokes like this have little or no impact on that. It is just stupid to get worked up over something that affects nothing, but it certainly has given my co-workers and I more amusement than the original column did. The angst wrapped up in this is laughable.

Posted by: Single and denied | October 20, 2006 1:33 PM

I just didn't think it was very funny. A re-run of old Aggie or Va. Tech jokes.

But here's something. I'm a product of hardcore RoVa, way south, way rural, grew up in a town of less than 300. This was a move "to town" for both of my parents! But when I and two contemporaries left, we skipped DC and NoVA because, as one of us said, "DC is just not very good at being a city." So now two of us have worked at the Metropolitan Museum and the other is an art dealer in Manhattan.

The NoVa lifestyle is one I wouldn't have on a cracker. Give me a real city or the boonies. And better jokes.

Posted by: Martha Hagood | October 20, 2006 1:46 PM

We live in Fairfax but travel quite a bit through other areas of the state. It's fun to see the differences, and then consider that they're all part of the Commonwealth.

But after all, one sees similar diversity in other states. Look next door in MD--how different can things be between Balt'more, Garrett County and the Delmarva?

And having lived in places such as New York (UpState/DownState), Massachusetts (Boston vs. the rest) and with family in Illinois
(Chicago vs. the rest), all I can say this controversy, real or imagined, isn't anything you don't see in dozens of other states.

Posted by: Bill | October 20, 2006 1:47 PM

The Style section writers don't see the irony of journalists making fun of anybody else's intelligence.

Posted by: bkp | October 20, 2006 2:02 PM

VAHerder: I think the thousands of duck hunters and outdoorsmen in Delmarva and the coastal Mid-Atlantic would take exception to your calling their labs "pets".

Posted by: Rosslyn | October 20, 2006 2:11 PM

Grew up in ROVA, Live in NOVA--(Arlington, that is): Hey folks, this entire string is lame. A bunch of people either praising their concept of rural life in RoVa or regurgitating the stereotypes of what they think every NoVA resident's life must be like is pathetic and intellectually lazy.

When RoVa can give me and my wife jobs that pay more than a BMW Tech at Sterling BMW, I'll consider moving back. After 18 years of a small, backward, economically deprived town in rural Va, I'll keep driving my SUV to Starbucks in Arlington and enjoying the lifestyle that an economic engine like NOVA can provide.

No one sits in traffic for their health. Even BMW Techs.

Posted by: BuenaVistaBred(finditonamapofVAIdareyou) | October 20, 2006 2:15 PM

So if NoVa secedes:
- the state seal will be an "under construction" sign
- the state animal will be the endangered orange-and-white road barrel
- the state bird will be the construction crane
- and the state motto will be "you can't get there from here".

Thank you very much - I'm here til Tuesday.
Try the veal.

Posted by: IAmtheWalrus | October 20, 2006 2:18 PM

Where was the Walrus when the Style Section was writing this lame-ass column?! Now this is humor:

So if NoVa secedes:
- the state seal will be an "under construction" sign
- the state animal will be the endangered orange-and-white road barrel
- the state bird will be the construction crane
- and the state motto will be "you can't get there from here".

Thank you very much - I'm here til Tuesday.
Try the veal.

Posted by: OD | October 20, 2006 2:25 PM

Tonio: I too am from the South and it's funny how a lot of people assume that if you have a drawl you are an idiot.

But, then, a lot of Southerners constantly talk about how mean and nasty Northerners are, even though many of them don't actually know any. Some of the nicest people I've ever met are from NYC.

Posted by: Hillman | October 20, 2006 2:30 PM

First of all, I agree with many of the other readers that this was not that funny. Just proved just how clueless and ignorant NoVans are when it comes to rest of the state. If they had a clue they would know that RoVA is really SoVA to the rest of 'real' Virginia. I grew up in Southside VA, and went to undergrad in Charlottesville with tons of snotty northern virginians who all were dying to be 'southern'-how ironic? The main difference I see between Northern VA and Southern VA is that most people up here have no roots in state, and are mostly here because of Washington. Poke fun all you want, but at least we have a distinguishable culture- beyond strip-malls, cookie cutter suburbs, and smog.

Posted by: Real Virginian | October 20, 2006 2:32 PM

You Virginians crack me up. No wonder George Allen fooled you all. Keep it up, Montgomery County has HOW MANY PhDs?

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 20, 2006 2:35 PM

Isn't this basically just a rehash of the old "red-state/blue-state" stereotypes?

Personally I am a very happy urbanite, but I can still enjoy a nice day in the shenandoah. I may not agree with their politics, but I am always surprised at how friendly people are in the south - and i try to remember that while cringing at their "ban gay marriage" signs (saw a lot of those in RoVa last weekend - true story).

There are ups and downs to all ways of life, and all points of view. Part of the whole "america" idea is that we can debate them, openly - although on the internet, it almost always seems to be done rudely as well, on all sides.

The post should have known better. I wasnt shocked or amused. Just surprised at the decision to run with it.

Posted by: bleeding heart | October 20, 2006 2:42 PM

Well we all know the folks at the Post are a bit snobbish, that was a given. After all, you can't find a decent brioche anywhere south of Arlington.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 20, 2006 3:01 PM

Boy, people really like to play victim. Oh those mean richies in NOVA are making fun of us poor, moral country folk? And vice versa.

Who gives a darn?

I think it was a funny comparison. I say celebrate the differences and the stereotypes. Moreover, to each his/her own. You think I give one thought to what RoVa people think about where I live? I happen to love NoVa, even with its downsides. RoVa has downsides too.

Get a life folks. You do know that we are in the midst of a war? Genocide in Africa? 45 million people have no healthcare? Just to name a few things. Find something else to be truly offended about. This is nothing.

Posted by: JS | October 20, 2006 3:12 PM

In RoVa, they hope the South will rise again. In NoVa, if the South rises again they would see it as an excuse to secede from RoVa.

Posted by: Arlington | October 20, 2006 3:14 PM

I thought it was funny and a way of reaching out and trying to understand each other a little better. RoVa was the brunt of the jokes this time, us City folks should get it next time. I just can't take this very seriously. Rural America has voted as though they think that City folk are just here on earth to pay federal taxes for them. They rail against welfare and promote "self sufficiency", but demand or at least accept wasteful farm "subsidies/welfare." Red staters seemed to think that only Bill Clinton fooled around and that he was a sinner, now we find that Republican politicians have mistresses (Reynolds), chase boys (Foley), and are corupt and steal from the taxpayers (Cunningham, Ney, DeLay, etc.) Those sure sound like sins to me. I say lets realize there is good and bad in all of us and lets enjoy the good a little more. Plus, just because we don't like guns and hunting doesn't mean we're g-dless or un-American. Try a camera and/or a fist instead. You might like it. We all love the great Earth we live on, lets just share a little of that love.

Posted by: urban | October 20, 2006 3:19 PM

Hey Bethesdan: some food for thought:

Highest average household income in US: Loudoun County
Second highest: Fairfax County

Yep, we're all jest a buncha rubes down here. I once knew another MoCo snot who referred to Virginia as "The Land of the Dumb." We may be dumb, but we make more than you.

Posted by: Loudoun Voter | October 20, 2006 3:23 PM

You say macaca
I say tomata
Lets call the whole thing off

Posted by: Steve | October 20, 2006 3:26 PM

This is RoVA:

Where your mother is your sister.
Where your father is your brother.
Where your uncle is your cousin.
Where your aunt is your sister
Where your grandfather is your father.
Where your grandmother is your mother.

Where Southern Baptists go to church every Sunday and pray to God that the rest of the horrid world stays out our their God-fearing RoVA.

Posted by: Chuck | October 20, 2006 3:41 PM


RoVa is beautiful--I went to school in the Piedmont region and still visit there every chance I get. (The countryside is absolutely gorgeous and the people are lovely.) Virginians of all stripes are brothers and sisters--and my brothers gave me nonstop crap as a kid. If it bothers you that much, write a riposte instead of complaining. It's all in fun!

Posted by: Falls Church, now in NYC | October 20, 2006 3:47 PM

A little poem for the RoVA-inians.

RoVA be crazy.
We all know they's lazy.
They work long hours on the farm.
And believe they do no harm.
They depend on UDSA to make their pay.
They like those subsidies to make their "hay".
They don't see it as welfare.
Heck, they see it as "only fare"
But when some one else trys get Uncle Sammy to cough up some bling.
They go ballistic and say "no such thing".
They say that will raise my taxes and cause me harm.
I need all that money for my farm.

Posted by: Chuck | October 20, 2006 4:00 PM

Yep, we're all jest a buncha rubes down here. I once knew another MoCo snot who referred to Virginia as "The Land of the Dumb." We may be dumb, but we make more than you.

And the stereotype I grew up with was that money meant more to Beltway Bandits than education. Was the above a complex joke or were you being serious that money means more to you than education?

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 20, 2006 4:00 PM

this is absurd infighting. If these two groups of people actually believe that the other is their worst enemy then theyre in for a big surprize.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 20, 2006 4:13 PM

If I lived in virginia...

in NoVa.. that would be the name of my community college...

in RoVa... that would be the name of my dawg.

Posted by: citizenw | October 20, 2006 4:29 PM

On behalf of DC residents - please fight this battle amongst each other in VA, and until it is resolved, stop driving into DC, making illegal turns in your SUV's, and parking illegally. Thank You.

Posted by: Rudy and Blitz | October 20, 2006 4:38 PM

"In RoVa, they hope the South will rise again."

The South HAS risen again - when's the last time y'all managed to elect a Yankee president?


Posted by: Anonymous | October 20, 2006 4:43 PM

From someone who is from RoVa (why am I using this term?)Hampton Roads but lived in Alexandria for years and planning to move back.

Not really offended by the piece, since I could probably add a few comparisons - it just wasn't representative of the rest of Virginia. If it were accurate, perhaps I would call it humor. I adore Northern VA, but I equally adore seeing the beltway in my rearview mirror!

Bottom line: The Post knew better. Mark, nice try on using the humor defense on what is clearly just plain old poor judgment.

Posted by: VAlover | October 20, 2006 5:15 PM

Bethesdan: When you guys have a high school as good as Thomas Jefferson, let us know, k? Last time I checked, your high schools were best known for allowing armed robbers who happen to play football to keep doing so, at different schools.

My post was a response to your silly post about Ph.Ds. That really doesn't impress me in the least, and it probably made many people laugh out loud.

Posted by: Loudoun Voter | October 20, 2006 5:18 PM

Why is this being cast as "rural vs. urban?" Many NoVians may work in DC, but they live in suburbia. Frankly, there are parts of the District that are somewhat suburban.

Posted by: True Urban | October 20, 2006 5:19 PM

I think its funny when some NOVA residents say that everyone they know is from somewhere other than Virginia, just like they are. Well, for those of us from here, we know plenty of people in the area who are also from here, so while, yes, half the Washington area population has probably been born in Pennsylvania, there are plenty of us natives around. Also, I dont think the Hampton Roads area of VA is any less transient than the DC area because of its heavy military presence there.

Posted by: xtr657 | October 20, 2006 9:09 PM

I'm with the folks that think the world would be a lot better off if people could accept that everyone is different and take it with a little bit of humor.

Loudon voter - touche, couple of good zingers there! Dave, nice one about the Baltimorons. Kudos to the WV jokes.

As far as the boundary between NoVa and RoVa - I think the line is wherever you hit either the first Waffle House leaving NoVa or the last Waffle House leaving RoVa.

Lighten up people, there's nothing like a good roast!

Posted by: Rosslyn | October 20, 2006 10:01 PM

The South HAS risen again - when's the last time y'all managed to elect a Yankee president? Hmmmmmmmmmmm, let's see. GW Bush- born in Connecticutt. GHW Bush- born in Massachusetts. Reagan- born in Illinois. Ford- born in Michigan. How far back do we need to go?

Posted by: kurosawaguy | October 21, 2006 9:57 AM

Loudoun Voter>>Bethesdan: When you guys have a high school as good as Thomas Jefferson, let us know, k? Last time I checked, your high schools were best known for allowing armed robbers who happen to play football to keep doing so, at different schools.

Actually - Richard Montgomery and Montgomery Blair's magnet programs are routinely mentioned in the same breath as TJ. The overall scores from the school may not reflect it, because both schools also have non-magnet students as well. (Full disclosure, I am a TJ grad, now living in MD.) The difference is, they see the value in not isolating their kids from the rest of the world, so they can excel at their studies, without being in a bubble.

I don't think that the regional divide in VA would be so strong if VA would get rid of the archaic "Dillon Rule" that brings all local decisions in the state through Richmond. That's why you don't see the same level of bitterness in Maryland, or some other states (though "Chicago vs. the rest" in Illinois may come close.)

Posted by: Joe in SS | October 21, 2006 7:56 PM

Doesnt take a lot brains for a dog to go in the cold water or in the bush after a dead duck does it? Come out to sheep dog trial sometime bubba! DOnt bring any of your PETA terroists friends we have a special trial class for them where gripping is allowed and encouraged.

Posted by: Vaherder | October 22, 2006 6:53 AM

I live in Chesterfield County, near Richmond for the NoVa crowd, and we have 5 starbucks in within a mile of my house. We also have two great shopping malls, stony point and short pump, within 15 minutes. E can drive 10 miles and go to museums and great dining in Richmond. We have great jobs and I can actually buy a 4BR house for less than the cost of a rundown townhouse in NoVa. Am I really that dumb if I choose not to commute for 3 hours a day? Point is RoVa has everything NoVa has and we don't have horrible roads/crazy housing prices.

Posted by: GF | October 23, 2006 8:40 AM

VaHerder, I never said it wasn't work to train a sheep dog; you're the one that seems threatened by anyone else that has an opinion different than yours on this story as well as others I've seen you respond to. If you want be that way though I'll play...

You think you're a manly man? Well, I'm from Pittsburgh and generations of my family have worked the steel mills that helped build this country; they didn't go prancing around the hills training dogs to follow sheep around so they could knit socks for people. Then again, people that like to follow sheep around don't do it just for the wool.

Posted by: Rosslyn | October 23, 2006 9:00 AM


Punk my relatives worked in the ahipyards in Bayonne, NJ and NYC. And on my dad's side worked on the RR grand dad was a engineer. And little girl you need to get out more the dogs dont follow the sheep around. Dogs move the sheep. But then what the f would you know staring out from 700 sq ft Rossly condo. And takes a lot more skill, brains and physical fitness to run a farm than to work in steel mill or whatever you do for a leaving. Probably an overpaid sys admin. Dont prance around little girl. Have stitches in my hand right now from a sheep and bruised ribs from working a herding trial. Sorry your family was to inbred to get out of the steel mills in Pittsburgh and let the union bosses take them to the cleaners.
Maybe your family will have children with IQs in the triple digits someday.

Posted by: Vaherder | October 23, 2006 11:02 AM

Vaherder - I hope you keep 'em coming b/c every reply you post just exposes you more and more as the ignorant a**hole that you are. Every stereotype you tried to slap on me is totally wrong, and I do not live in Rosslyn and I do not live in one of the soul-less condo's around here.

You seem to portray sheep herding as the hardest living there is, that requires the most intelligence of any profession, and we owe you some deep respect for that. I'm sorry my friend, but that's just not the case. No one said your profession doesn't take any "brains" as you like to say, yet you seem to get real defensive about that. I only said what I said to give you a dose of your own medicine b/c I've noticed that you treat everyone else in these blogs that has a different viewpoint from you as stupid. You will say anything to rationalize that what you do and how you live is more important than anything or anybody else.

I was only trying to make the point that you seem to enjoy portraying other people as sissies b/c what they do isn't as hard as what you do. But a steelworker can say what they do is the hardest and takes the most brains, and a shipyard worker can say the same, as could a firefighter, a farmer, a coalminer, a programmer, etc. etc. Anyone that truly has any brains can see through all that macho - bullsh*t and realize that everyone is different and contributes to society in their own way. I respect the shipyard worker for bringing the goods to our marketplace, the steelworker for providing the material we use to build, the programmer for making the software that makes business and industry run, and the farmer for putting food on my table (gak - even you). I don't claim that what I do is better or more important and make everybody else wrong for what they do or how they live.

Do me a favor, turn your head to the side and bang it on a table a couple of times - it might knock some of the manure out of your brains and help you think better.

Posted by: Rosslyn | October 23, 2006 11:54 AM

Frankly for a region (I mean all you all in DC/VA/MD) that boasts Ph.D's or high wages, it's amusing we can't seem to design an efficient road system, can't avoid little whoopsies in our voting apparatus, and are experiencing the social issues we laughed only affect "fly-over country." This north/south, urban/rural crap gets old and the fact this entire angry thread has been born from some lame attempts at humor out of the WaPo Stylistas means sad provincialism, whether coming from the green woods or hillsides of RoVA or the concrete and brick caverns of NoVA, is still sad provincialism.

Enjoy where you live and try to get along.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 23, 2006 2:23 PM

Vaherder's from New Jersey? That explains it.

Posted by: WB | October 23, 2006 5:51 PM

Why is it in RoVa they are still "practicing the true religion". Aren't you ever going to get any better t it? It sure doesn't look like your practicing is doing any good.

Please stay in RoVa where you can't do any real damage. After all, that's RoVa's only legitimate use.

I wouldn't live in either Viginia, anyway (mainly because of the RoVa Right).

Posted by: To Mayra | October 24, 2006 11:47 AM

Why is it still unacceptable to make fun of people who come from rural areas? I think that if Jew,Negro, Arab, Muslim, Asian, or Catholic was used instead of the generalization ROVA, everyone would be so incensed. This reminds me of the workplace years ago when sexually explicit jokes were told and women were told to "Lighten up- it's just a joke". I am proud to have been born a farmer's daughter and to be a farmer's wife. I also think I am damn lucky to live where I live. I leave my doors unlocked and my windows open at night. I don't have to put up with traffic jams or any of the other hassles of urban/suburban life. I think the Style section of the Post showed absolutely no style this time.

Posted by: Vafarmwife | October 24, 2006 6:55 PM

There is a really simple thing to do here...offer the staff of some small town paper in RoVa to do a NoVa/RoVa comparison and then print it in the Post.

Of course, by the Post standards they would have to take time out of the meth lab to do this, but I am sure they would be willing to help!

Posted by: Bwana | October 25, 2006 2:36 PM

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