Virginia may be for lovers and I may have left my heart in San Francisco, but DC is my kind of town.
I've lived here for so many years that I do believe I could be called a genuine Washingtonian. Sure enough, I hail from Tejas and now live in the 'burbs, but DC ~ our Nation's Capital ~ is the Land of Lincoln that I love.
From summer concerts and fireworks on the West Lawn of the US Capitol to presidential motorcades that interrupt everyday downtown strolls; from Rolling Thunder roaring across the bridge from Arlington Cemetery on Memorial Day to the nearly 4,000 Yoshino Cherry Trees that bloom, in unseasonal heat and sometimes in spring snowstorms, DC is a thrilling, enthralling iconoclast.
The Capital City, of course, is full of stuffed suits and egos off the charts. But it is also home to the funky rhythms of Capitol Hill's Eastern Market and the community of Miriam's Kitchen, which nurtured Yoshio and his friends of the street.
When folks "out there" criticize my city for its pomp and circumstance, for its politics and greed, a little piece of my heart cracks along the edges.
The truth is, where citizens beyond the Beltway see avarice, I see public servants who are trying to help.
I worked for a congressman ~ two, in fact ~ in the '80s. I can tell you most of them don't lead very lavish lives. Their staffs are crammed into rodent-infested quarters and work slavish hours for very little pay at the behest of the American people. I've helped coal miners in Southwest Virginia with their federal black lung benefits and I've listened patiently while an Oregon fisherman explained for what seemed like the eight-hundrenth time that fisheries management doesn't always sustain the little guy.
The victories for that little guy, though, are really what DC is all about.
Gabby Giffords, of Arizona's 8th District, and her Outreach Director, Gabe Zimmerman, were working for the people on Saturday when they were shot. Giffords, miraculously, survived. Zimmerman, who had set up the community gathering outside the Safeway in Tucson, did not.
The billboard above has been hanging over Highway 41 in Oshkosh, WI, for a number of years. Notice that it towers over the medium-security prison that serves the Fox River Valley. A bit of irony, that, no?
The cesspool isn't in Washington, DC, friends. The cesspool is in our hearts.