Archived entries for Washington

Washington

One of my favorite things about Washington is the architecture. The city feels so European in its aesthetic — particularly the neighborhoods of Northwest Washington, lined chock-a-block with embassies like the enormous one below, just off Dupont Circle, which is home to Indonesia’s ambassador:

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And then there’s this cool building on Florida Ave., which although not built in the style of the surrounding Dupont Circle neighborhood, certainly doesn’t stick out like the sore thumb you might imagine:

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NLGJA

I spent this week in Washington at the annual convention of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association. This was my (gasp!) seventh year attending the NLGJA confab, which brings together leading journalists, bloggers, and communications professionals. Here I am posing with my BFFs at a reception with the now-famous former Ambassador to Romania, Michael Guest, on Thursday night. He was a great speaker and I was glad to be able to corner him for ten minutes so he could provide me some tips on a potential trip to Bucharest this fall.

Those who keep tabs on the goings-on at the esteemed State Department will recall that Ambassador Guest, only the country’s second openly gay ambassador, sharply criticized the State Department and Secretary Rice in a very public resignation last year. In that resignation, which the New York Times called a “rhetorical hand grenade” thrown in to his party, he explained:

“I’ve felt compelled to choose between obligations to my partner — who is my family — and service to my country. That anyone should have to make that choice is a stain on the Secretary’s leadership and a shame for this institution and our country.”

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Photo courtesy Jason Smith

Hotel Palomar

I am an absolute sucker for a comfy hotel room, and Kimptons are the best! This weekend I’m ensconced in this stylish room at the Hotel Palomar on P Street in Washington’s Dupont Circle. Not only are Kimpton Hotels consistently affordable and cute and roomy, but their service is second to none. I’ll be back at this one in no time!

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Parliament Hill vs Capitol Hill

This week the Globe and Mail did a quick switch, sending its Washington correspondent home to Ottawa, and sending an Ottawa-based reporter to Washington! The two share their pithy perspectives on leaving their respective capitals in today’s paper.

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John Ibbitson, on Ottawa: “If you ask Canadians to name Canada’s major cities, as likely as not they’ll leave Ottawa off the list. This will never change. Ottawa is what it is, and will always be less than it could be. It will always be a government town, and for that reason, it will always be a conservative town, it will always be a city of unrealized potential, it will always be rather dull.

“The city is located in the middle of nowhere, and the nowhere is quite attractive.

“Ottawa and Toronto are centres of different kinds of power. Toronto is the country’s dominant financial and cultural power – that is to say, real power – while Ottawa is the centre of political power. The different nature of those two sources of power is reflected in the way the two populations entertain: In Toronto, people go out to dinner; in Ottawa, they hold dinner parties. And that really is the very heart of it. A truly great evening in Toronto or Montreal or Vancouver starts out in a restaurant and ends up in a bar, with a whole lot of great food, too much booze and adventure along the way, or to come. A truly great evening in Ottawa begins and ends in your friends’ living room, where people have gathered for dinner, and where the evening winds down over gossip and cognac”

Alan Freeman, on Washington: “In many ways, Washington is simply Ottawa on steroids, a bland company town where government is the dominant employer and seemingly the only subject of conversation. Capitals may be great when it comes to well-manicured parkland, countless statues of long-dead heroes and wide boulevards, but they’re not exactly the liveliest of places to visit and live in.

“This is a city I’ve found hard to love. Washington may be leafy, it may have great museums and even better monuments, but it’s not the kind of urban environment I find instantly exciting. It has none of the buzz of New York or London, none of the neighbourhood dynamism of Toronto, none of the lively grittiness of Montreal or Berlin, all cities I’ve lived in over the past three decades.”

Blame Montreal

Like Washington, Ottawa is a capital city overrun with gay people. But for a city of its size (1 million people), it is struggling to create a cohesive gay community. The problem: its close proximity to Montreal is sucking the life out of Ottawa’s gay scene.

“We have Montreal two hours down the road, and that’s what undoes us,” said Doug Janoff, a gay Canadian writer. “It makes us lazy. Why bother getting involved in the community when we can work at our public service jobs Monday to Friday and then just go party in Montreal on the weekend?”

Overheard in Washington

The nice guy may not get the girl, but he sure does get a better seat on the airplane. Last night at Washington’s National Airport, I overheard a passenger trying to weasel his way onto the Shuttle to Boston early, saying “But I’m Star Alliance Gold.” The gate agent shot right back:  “Honey, this is Shuttle. We don’t preboard becauseeveryone in Washington is Star Alliance Gold.”  As my friend Charlie told me upon hearing all this, “When will people learn that status, combined with kindness, is the key to a good airplane seat.”

Whitman-Walker To Shutter Services

The Whitman-Walker Clinic, one of the nation’s largest HIV/AIDS service organizations, will close its operations in suburban Washington, which serve more than 600 people with HIV/AIDS, and lay off one-quarter of its staff because of a severe cash flow crisis.

The clinic, whose own study of gay men in Washington led to the Rochester Sex Study, began as a gay men’s health center and is now one of the leading AIDS research sites in America. Washington has one of the nation’s most staggering rates of HIV/AIDS, with one in 20 adults infected.

“This gives me pause, real pause,” D.C. Council member David A. Catania said. “In an era where the epidemic is still with us, to see this kind of retreat is disheartening.”

• Kofi Annan tells the United Nations today that AIDS needs to have the same attention paid to it as “the most urgent security threats and crises” and “not an iota less.”

Anti-Gay Letter to Schools Prompts Rebuke

• The Fairfax County School Board issued a public reprimand last night to a member who sent a letter to high school principals urging them to ensure that students hear the views of people who believe homosexuality is a choice and a “destructive lifestyle.” The board member also encouraged schools to bring in “ex-gay” speakers to talk with students.

DC Blogger Tells All About Hill Sexcapades

Check out “Your Blog or Mine?” in today’s Times, which tells the story of Washington staffers and their romantic intrigues with congressmen and the heads of various government agencies

Montreal – Au revoir Expos

Today, the Montreal Expos announced they will bid adieu to Olympic Stadium and move to Washington.  Civic pride has taken a blow in this city, but with just a few thousand people attending each home game, on average, there’s little sense staying.

Montreal is perhaps my favourite city on the continent.  It’s an intriguing city, and when I was in high school, a columnist for the Montreal Gazette wrote about the perennial good news-bad news nature of the city and its “romantic melancholy.”  It’s an apt description of a place that has been plagued by a mass exodus of thousands of businesses and people, mostly anglophones, over the past half-century.  They left for Toronto and Calgary, leaving Montreal with a bit of an image problem, fewer corporate offices and well-paying jobs, and most visibly, a declining anglophone elite.  Luckily, the past few years have been good to Montreal’s economy, with a renewed tourist interest in the city, as well as improving signs in the real estate market, which has traditionally been weak here.

“Life in Montreal is a little like being in a certain kind of abusive relationship. You’re always thinking of leaving but the good times are unparalleled. And the make-up sex is sublime. You’re hostage to love.”



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