News & Politics

The Blogger Beat: The Anti DC

This week, we take our best shots at Washington fashion, the Metro, and more with the Anti DC’s Marissa Payne.

Marissa Payne, the Anti DC blogger, at DCU's Van Ness campus. Photograph by Chris Leaman

Freelance writer Marissa Payne started her blog, the Anti DC, in November 2007. She’d blogged before on sites like MySpace, but had never done so with a distinct theme. The idea for a blog to rant about Washington simply came to her one day when her frustrations with the city came to a head. “And voilà!” she says. “The metaphorical crack baby that is the Anti DC was born.”

Payne updates her blog daily and estimates that she spends ten hours a week working on the site. When she’s not actually blogging, she’s thinking about what to blog about next. “I’m a serious dork,” she admits. What does all that work get her? Three hundred visitors a day and an audience she describes as “people who appreciate the art of writing and really clever jokes about bodily functions. So, like, really smart 14-year-old boys.”

We caught up with Payne recently to hear her latest rants about Washington. Overrated neighborhoods? Most pretentious Washington job title? Read on for her answers.

Three reasons to hate DC:
“Let’s see, I really hate how the men here don’t seem to recognize that wearing pleated pants makes them look like they’re also wearing adult diapers. I also don’t really dig the federal government, which is so out of control that it overpowers the subcultures that make DC an actual, legitimate city. I’ll wrap up by noting I’ve never encountered a more rude crew of drivers than I have in DC. Not only have I been nearly rundown on my bike more times than the number of pleats on pants in Congress, but just the other day I saw someone in a Lexus honk at someone else for stopping to let an ambulance with its sirens blaring go by. Heaven forbid we stop to save a life when there’s taxpayer money to waste. Plus, the driver’s ill-fitting suit was probably getting wrinkled. See, all this hating goes hand-in-hand, really.”

Three reasons to love DC:
“This probably won’t make sense to anyone with a modicum of sanity, but one of my favorite things about DC is the fact that it’s so hard to love. For me, it makes for not only excellent blog fodder, but it leads to character building. More tangibly, DC has a pretty tight thrift-shop/vintage scene with stores like Mercedes Bien, which now features the ridiculously awesome Listopad pop-up shop, as well as sprawling thrift stores like Goodwill and Indian Head. I also like that DC seems to have a penchant for mob justice. Perhaps this is just the flip side of the rampant egocentricity that makes DC so vile at times, but I’ve heard about more than one occasion when random citizens have risked their own well-beings to catch criminals, such as when Robert Novak ran over a dude and some cyclist refused to let him drive off, or when a bunch of people chased a gunman down in Adams Morgan on a Sunday morning a few months ago armed only with sticks and the sense of justice. That’s admirable. In New York, people would’ve shrugged and moved on.”

Most overrated and underrated neighborhoods:
“This is a tough one as I think the entire city is a bit overrated, but the most overrated is probably Dupont Circle. I just don’t get it. Whenever I hear people describe it as one of the ‘hippest’ neighborhoods in DC, I always feel slightly vindicated for my snobtastic attitude because save for a few restaurants such as Sushi Taro and Cafe Japoné, I really don’t see what all the fuss is about. The nightclubs there might as well be in Georgetown, which I find absolutely repugnant after dark. Kind of like Adams Morgan and, unfortunately, U Street increasingly on the weekends. It seems after-dark douchiness is creeping east at an alarming rate.

“As far as underrated neighborhoods go, I don’t think people appreciate Mt. Pleasant as much as they probably should. There are some really cool holes-in-the-wall there: Burritos Fast, which, if nothing else, I enjoy for its get-to-the-point name; Marx Café, a wonderful neighborhood bar; and my personal favorite, Don Juan’s, a Mexican joint that serves good food on the cheap. H Street in Northeast is also a bit underrated, although it’s becoming more popular now. It can be a bit of a trip to get out there, but it’s worth it. I’ve never had a bad time out there. Neither has my mom. Although she doesn’t guzzle Sparks with me at the Rock & Roll Hotel, whenever she comes to DC, we make it a point to go to Granville Moore’s for the mussels. Yum.”

Most annoying quality of DC residents:
“In general, I think most people in DC take themselves too seriously, which is why I think people who read my blog either entirely love it or viscerally hate it. I’ve found throughout my sick and twisted years on this Earth that those who are able to laugh at themselves are more enjoyable to be around. Hell, if I wasn’t able to laugh at myself, I’d hate myself, too. I’m an asshole, but a funny asshole. DC has just lots of plain assholes.”

Local leader you most wish you could fire:
“Let me start off by saying I love me some Jim Graham, who’s my councilman. I can’t say I’m so informed about his politics, but I love his bow ties and orange-colored spectacles. As far as firing people goes, I’d only fire someone if I could ensure that I, myself, could take their place. Lately, I’ve been intrigued with DC’s fake senators. I would really like to be one of those. A fancy job title with no responsibilities? Then I’d feel like a true Washingtonian.”

Finish this sentence: “If I had to live in the ’burbs, I’d live in . . .”
“. . . Centreville. Not only is there enough land out there to allow me to build a large compound to keep out other human beings, but it’s also really close to the Bull Run shooting range. Seriously.”

Three things that qualify as “exceptionally messed up sh*t”:
“Exceptionally messed up sh*t comes in all shapes and sizes. It could be anything from some tool in a bar bragging to my friend about all his drunk-driving experiences (true story) to things like Crocs, which I don’t think I need to explain. To round out to an even, er, odd three, I’ll throw in DC cab prices. They’re exceptionally exorbitant.”

Most pretentious Washington job title you’ve ever heard:
“Secretary of Homeland Security. Nothing’s more pretentious than heading a department that probably shouldn’t exist in the first place.”

Least reliable: Metro or bus?
“Luckily I don’t have to deal with either too often because I’m a bike commuter. However, before finding my bike, I regularly rode the bus, and it was horrendous. Honestly, I don’t know why they even bother to post a schedule because it’s obvious the buses operate within a wholly different space/time continuum.”

Why.i.hate.dc: friend or foe?
“I don’t personally know too many other bloggers, so I’ve never met any of the authors of why.i.hate.dc, but I’d like to think if we met we’d be quick friends. I mean, we both hate DC. That’s a strong bond.”

Worst local news broadcast:
“I don’t have a pick for worst, I must say I heart Channel 9’s Derek McGinty. It’s the Mailbag—I love McGinty’s Mailbag. Before I leave DC, whenever that will be, my goal is to get a mention on McGinty’s Mailbag.”

DC’s dress code: better or worse than one year ago?
“Honestly, I think the younger kids coming in are doing much better, but the people my age (late twenties, early thirties) still make me do double takes, in a bad way. Especially now, as people are starting to break out their Uggs (still . . .) to commute to work. There are other shoe options, I swear, that don’t make it look like you have children’s stuffed toys on your feet.”

Where you get your rock ‘n’ roll on:
“When the crowd isn’t horrendous, I really enjoy live shows at the 9:30 Club. It’s the perfect size and the stage is really high off the ground so it’s easy to see the show from anywhere in the club. It also has four bars and, in my rather backward world, booze makes everything better. I also like the Rock & Roll Hotel. It’s a lot smaller and the sound is pretty bad, but the crowds are always much cooler, mostly because their pants are a lot tighter.”

Where you go for some art:

“With all the museums in this city, I should really take advantage of more of them. However, to me, I like to find art in the most unlikely of places. I people-watch a lot, which probably makes me creepy, but I find observing the art of life is at least as enjoyable as the National Portrait Gallery.”

Where you flee to escape DC:
“Speaking of art—Baltimore! I’ve fallen in love with this city in the past couple of months. They have a really awesome music and DJ scene there with acts like Dan Deacon, the Taxlo crew, and Claire Hux. The general population there also juxtaposes with DC’s. I have yet to meet a collar-popping douche bag in Baltimore. If the bike commute was shorter, I’d probably move there.”

Favorite local blog besides your own:
“There are several DC-based blogs that I enjoy, but the one I read most regularly is the DC Universe. It constantly makes me laugh, especially whenever it tackles the Washington Post’s Date Lab feature. I like to imagine Chuck Woolery is the brains behind this blog.”

The Blogger Beat will be off for the next two Wednesdays to celebrate the holidays. We’ll be back on January 7 with Sacha Cohen of Going Green DC for some ecofriendly chatter to kick off the New Year. Check back then for the interview!

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