News & Politics

The Blogger Beat: The 42

This week, we hop aboard the Mount Pleasant bus line with Tim—who prefers to keep his last name under wraps—from the local blog The 42.

For years, Tim dreamed of becoming a television writer. He loved shows such as Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm and Arrested Development and wanted to write a comedy series based on his life. His dream gained steam two years ago after watching a few friends complete the 48 Hour Film Project.

That’s when Tim bought a book called How to Write a Screenplay. The book, he says, was dense and technical. When he mapped out the process—write a script, get it edited, rewrite, edit, and so on—“the romance sort of wore off,” he says. “I realized it would be very difficult to do.” Instead, he started a blog.

The 42 has become Tim’s creative outlet. Named for the Metrobus line that runs through Mount Pleasant, the blog covers neighborhood news and gossip, such as business openings and community events, as well as musings on the author’s observations from the bus window. Tim writes a regular feature called “Reasons to Be Car-Free in DC”—“I can’t afford it” recently made the list—and uses the blog as an excuse to snap photos around town.

We recently caught up with this Mount Pleasant expert—he’s lived in the neighborhood for six years—to find out what he likes and dislikes about the 42 bus and the communities he sees through its windows. Where to go? Why live there? What to do? Read on for his answers.

Estimated number of hours you’ve spent on the 42 bus:
“My best guess is that total, I’ve spent 200 hours riding the 42 bus over the years. That’s like spending eight days on a bus. To be fair, most of that is ten-minute rides to and from Adams Morgan, but still. The H4 bus is not far behind; I rode it to work for several years.”

Funniest thing you’ve ever seen from the bus window:
“People running for the bus as it pulls way—just kidding. That’s mean! I think one of the most interesting things I see is the diversity of people from Mount Pleasant, Adams Morgan, Dupont Circle, and all the way to Penn Quarter. I don’t mean diversity in terms of race or gender or sexuality, although all those are present. I mean a diversity in terms of ideas, too. What role government should play in our lives, what makes a great neighborhood, how to accomplish our shared goals—we’re all in it together. And it just so happens that we’re all in it in one of the most politicized cities in America. That’s fun to observe from the bus window.”

Funniest thing you’ve ever seen inside the bus:
“Recently a few riders have felt compelled to tell me, a total stranger, that it was their first time ever riding a city bus. I feel like I have a sign floating above my head that says, ‘Yes, come talk to me, complete stranger.’ I suppose at some point there comes a time when you take that first ride on a city bus. If you happen to see me immediately after that, consider keeping that little gem to yourself.”

Three things Metro could improve about buses:
“Fix the bunching problem, where buses end up traveling off schedule and in packs of two or more. Add more limited-stop buses, and increase the frequency of east-west buses, similar to the H4 route from Brookland to Tenleytown.”

Best reason to live in Mount Pleasant:
“Location, location, location. Live a little farther north and you run the risk of never wanting to leave the house because entertainment’s too far away. A little farther south, the streets get busier and nosier and the buildings taller. A little farther east, and you’re closer to Metro but also the mondo development that comes with it. And a little farther west, you’re living at the bottom of a ravine. The 42 bus travels through the most desirable parts of DC all day, every day. The second-best reason is that the retail strip on Mount Pleasant Street basically makes us a small, nearly self-sufficient town.”

Favorite Mount Pleasant restaurant:
“Adam Express, far and away. Quality, ambience, and consistency. Honorable mentions for Tikal Burritos Fast and Haydee’s.”

Where to go on a date:
“Radius, because eating pizza at the bar while watching American Idol is more fun than waiting for a table. It’s probably the most homey-feeling of all the restaurants in the neighborhood. I’m transformed into a nerdy townie when I eat there.”

Where to grab a drink after work:
“Marx Cafe. All the woodwork makes me feel comfortable. The bartenders are quirky but approachable, and the patrons are as unpretentious as can be. Tonic is a close second, especially since I’m a sports fan. If I want food with my drink, I’ll take the 42 bus to Asylum in Adams Morgan.”

Favorite place to dine al fresco:
“We don’t have many options in the neighborhood for this, but Dos Gringos and Marx Cafe come closest. Technically, you’d have to stick your head out the window for Marx to count, but I’ve done it before and will do it again. Also on the 42 bus route, there’s Toledo Lounge. And I can’t fail to mention the wonderful porch-and-rooftop scene at homes in Mount Pleasant.”

Store or business you most wish would come to your neighborhood:
“A post office. Please. This is a direct plea to the United States Postal Service. If you opened up shop here, I bet it’d be the highest-grossing post office this side of Rock Creek Park.”

Favorite warm-weather activity:
“Easy—the Mount Pleasant farmers market. People travel to this market from all over DC every weekend. I’ve even spied a few getting back into their cars with Maryland tags. Some farmers are quite friendly and even ask how my winter was or why I always seem to wear the same shirt on Sundays. They really appreciate our business, and we appreciate their hard work.”

One thing about the neighborhood that needs improving:

“I wouldn’t change much about it, but I guess I’d like drivers to respect the speed limit and other traffic patterns in the neighborhood. Another thing: The 42 bus route is perfect, and the Circulator service is a plus, but I still long for a better cross-town transit service—say, between Mount Pleasant and Tenleytown or Cleveland Park.”

Favorite neighborhood on the 42 bus route besides Mount Pleasant:
“I could take the easy way out and say that they all have something to offer, which is true. However, my love/hate relationship with Adams Morgan makes it a prime candidate: I love it Sunday through Thursday and hate it on the weekends. It’s DC’s most complete and complex neighborhood. Despite everyone’s strong opinions about it, Adams Morgan defies concise description or stereotype. It’s known for Friday-night debauchery, but don’t overlook its neat parks, interesting and diverse architecture, public and private schools, great transit options, and high rate of business and resident turnover. That keeps the neighborhood fresh enough to be interesting and residents on their toes.”

Where you’d live if not in Mount Pleasant:
“The DC neighborhood that most closely resembles my beloved Fan neighborhood in Richmond: Capitol Hill. The well-worn sidewalks, rows of hundred-year-old houses, and sense of community rival Mount Pleasant’s. Having the seat of American power in your back yard is pretty neat, too. Who else can say they live across the street from the Supreme Court? Of course, Eastern Market and Lincoln Park don’t hurt, either. I never seriously explored Capitol Hill before I moved to DC, but over the years it has grown on me.”

Favorite local blog besides your own:
“There are two I’ll mention. Because of her sheer determination for comprehensive documentation and knack for obtaining universal access, JDLand is one of my favorite neighborhood blogs. I have enjoyed watching the growth and change happening in near-Southeast through her updates. And in a semi-desperate attempt to live vicariously through a complete stranger’s decadent adventures, I find myself keeping up with Blonder Than You. I sometimes wonder if we cross paths on my daily commute, shopping in Georgetown, or drinking at a club. It’s the anonymity of blogging at its best.”

Next week, we talk with the young and hip Naomi Reid Davis of Rockstar Diaries. Find out her thoughts on being 21 and married, why she moved to DC from New York City, and what she likes best about her new hometown. Stay tuned!

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