I fled to New York after I graduated from The American University in the mid '90s because I was an artist and a designer with a plan to have a life's work. There was nothing except politics and polite culture happening in D.C.
But now. Wow. The D.C. that I now also consider home (50 percent of every month I will be in D.C., the other in NYC) is not what I remember. It's electric and unpredictable in ways that makes this city a place where raw ideas can grow and mature. The tech scene is budding and I hope to be a relevant contributor in that arena. And at night, the big boulevards downtown can rival those in Paris thanks to Pierre Charles L'Enfant , who was George Washington's city planner and designer.
With all of this new inspiration for D.C. a new column is born for you and I call it, "D.C.: Definitely Cool or Don't Care." I will bring you the best and worst of the city. I bring you the trends, patterns and behaviors of culture that can connect us. I want to build a shared community around art, design, social consciousness, and adventure. I hope you will read my articles and maybe share with me your experiences and things you are creating, risking, changing, agitating, and loving.
D.C.: Definitely Cool
For this inaugural column I want to take you to 5th Street Northeast, near the Convention Center, on a Saturday night about two weeks ago. It's dark and there doesn't seem to be anything going on there for blocks. I feel like I might be in the wrong place at the wrong time. And my friend who has lived in D.C. for 13 years has no idea where I am dragging him. I tell him to trust me. Then I see in blue backlit white lettering the huge UNION MARKET sign appear above the large white factory structure with the beat of serious bass music vibrating through the car window.
Union Market, a.k.a. Centre Market, a fresh food venue born more than 200 years ago, is an "urban village born from the diversity of the dreams and energy of the nation's capital." There are over 40 carefully curated local retail shops inside open year round and daily to the public. The shopping experience is a cross between the casual open markets in Marrakesh or Turkey, with the meticulous and careful design you'd find in a Parisian boutique.
Outside are the docks where fish and meat were once hoisted into shops and is now a stage where the music was coming from (DJ Will Eastman, Sunwolf, followed by The Walkmen). I've never been anywhere like this. I was taking snapshots of the scene in my mind. People gathered around the heat lamp, SNAP! The raw factory aesthetic, SNAP! Music blasting outside, SNAP! D.C. is Definitely Cool.