Thursday, May 10, 2012

Under the River and Through the Woods

When I first moved to Washington DC fifteen years ago, my brother gave me a couple of pieces of advice for navigating the city - stay away from Dupont Circle (where the homosexuals tend to congregate) and don't go to Southeast DC (so I don't get shot). My brothers have a long history of looking out for my best interests, with notable exceptions including, but not limited to, crashing a bike with me riding on the handlebar, teaching me the art of shotgunning a beer, and loud baggy pants fashion sense. What are big brothers for if not for teaching you how to use a stun gun on your friends? Well I am happy to report, taking all advice with the appropriate amounts of salt, that all these years later I am still relatively unscathed by my experience in our nation's capital. Yes, gay men have flirted with me (although the gay women mostly seem oblivious to my charm), and I can recount several a tale of urban crime and ne'er-do-wells, but I do believe this city life has made me the stronger for what I have encountered... Even the date with the undercover lesbian.

Where was I going with this? Ah, yes, unscathed. It has been several years now since first I explored the neighborhood named for the famous rear admiral (no, really) Dupont, but last Sunday, I thought it was high time I cross the Anacostia River and explore the curious Ward 8, most specifically to see for myself what kind of place deems it beneficial to be successively represented by Marion Barry. The good news is, I didn't get shot; in fact no weapons appeared to be brandished nor any newsworthy atrocity occur. The few people I talked with were fairly friendly; I think I may have even been invited to a barbecue! My plan was to get off the Metro at the Congress Heights station and set out on a photographic journey. Truth be told, my few hours took me to the border of Maryland and back to Anacostia, but I will need to spend some more time there to make a competent discovery of any depth. My first impression, though, is that it is a hidden part of the city for a reason, and it seems to lack the innovative and expressive spirit of what makes our country great. It's more akin to a reservation where a people do not thrive, but rather continue to exist.

To be continued...

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