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Old 07-13-2009, 01:28 PM
 
Location: Arlington, VA
1,430 posts, read 3,481,248 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alicia Bradley View Post
I don't know who duped ScranBarre about NoVA, but I know who duped me (re: both NoVA and the general D.C. area) - mass media and the entertainment industry. As someone from the Midwest, I grew up hearing from those two sources that my home region was total crap, that it was essentially one big farm, that people living places as far north as South Dakota had Southern accents, that the Northeast of the U.S. was culturally far superior to the Midwest in every way. (Some of these allegations were patently false, and I obviously trusted my own eyes and ears before, say, some entertainment columnist from Long Island, but I now realize I did acquire, on a thoroughly subconscious level, some of this attitude, myself.)

Well, being from an upper-middle-class background (which is actually pretty damn common in the Midwest) and having sort of "artsy" parents, I got to experience lots of yuppy goodies growing up, especially during my later childhood (indie coffee shops, high-end boutiques, awesomely quirky - if pricey - restaurants, natural foods emporia, gentrified "downtown" neighborhoods with rehabbed historic homes, etc.). Then, during my dirty-poor college years in Columbia, Missouri (the coolest small city on earth) and Evanston, Illinois (a Chicago 'burb that should make D.C. suburbanites cry), I settled into a very "granola" lifesyle - riding my bike everywhere (I don't even have a license!), buying all my food at funky and cheap natural foods places whose stock was almost 100% bulk items, etc. It was only natural for me to assume, based on the mantra that I'd heard from my natal day chanted by idiots on T.V. (on the rare occasions it was turned on ) and movie screens, in pages of magazines, etc. that such things would be both more plentiful and superior in quality in an Eastern city like D.C. (Well, I wasn't so naive that I believed D.C. wouldn't pale in comparison to Chicagoland, but the latter is a far bigger city, for one thing.)

I guess I did have some VERY GOOD data about the Mid-Atlantic, in retrospect, that I stupidly chose to ignore: when I was in high school, my parents and I took a trip to Baltimore (a city I actually do like in many ways - but that's for another thread ), Annapolis, Rehobeth Beach in Delaware, and Ocean City, MD. Except for a few isolated spots (parts of Baltimore, the Annapolis waterfront and areas nearby), we thought we'd descended into some 1960s throwback blue-collar hell. This was the vastly culturally superior East Coast? (I'd been to D.C. itself but was too little at the time to remember much about it by the time I moved here in '06.. besides the museums and monuments and the abundant litter/trash on the streets, that is. )

So - in short (I'd love to eventually gather some hard numbers which would back up my mostly subjective impressions) - it seems to me that good restaurants, walkable neighborhoods, indie coffee shops, indie shops in general, places to get old-school natural foods (e.g., sprouting supplies , bulk items, vegetarian jerky, etc.) are way, way, way, way, way sparser on a per-capita basis than in other (Midwestern) cities I've lived in. And also that these things are way less accessible in many ways to the middle class in D.C. than they would be in the Midwest. (The one cool thing about the area is that when you do stumble upon one of these places - i.e., the stationer in Vienna [can't recall the name], Artfully Chocolate, etc. - the proprieters/employees are actually nice, which is nice; my parents actually commented on this, too.)

Since ScranBarre is from the Rust Belt, another part of the country that people love to hate, it could be that his expectations about the D.C. area were unrealistically high (re: the kinds of things he values/enjoys), too. The genesis for my long-winded hypothesis, above, was actually an incident I had with a friend from Pittsburgh here in Faux Alexandria - she said she expected this area to have more "cool restaurants" and to be generally "hipper," especially since it wasn't a place "people made fun of" like Pittsburgh was.

One final caveat - since starting to read/post in the NoVA section of CD, I've discovered you guys are often very self-deprecating about a place - the vaunted "Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C." (ooooohhhh) - that many Midwesterners would (even if just subconsciously) equate to the splendor of the Elysian Fields. (I'd actually still agree that being here is like being dead - only kidding, of course. )

Ok, let the flames begin!
I really don't understand why so many people refer to Northern Virginia like it is some major metropolitan area without any connection whatsoever to DC. Aside from parts of Arlington, and Alexandria City (not "faux Alexandria") the rest of Northern Virginia is predominantly a suburban type atmosphere that can be encountered in most other areas. The main differences being a more ethnically diverse population, higher education levels, slightly more urban/semi-urban environment and higher incomes. We are also lucky enough to be in close proximity to the mountains, the bay and beaches, Civil War battlefields, wineries and other various destinations that in my opinion enhance the quality of life in this region. My main point is that I guarantee you don't consider places like Wheaton, Aurora, Evanston, etc. as seperate entities from the Chicagoland area..why is Northern Virginia different?

Not sure really what comprises a "cool restaurant" but if the only restaurants you took your friend to were in suburban Fairfax County then she might as well have compared the dining scene to that of suburban Pittsburgh not places within the city. If you can't find better places to eat in Old Town, Arlington, Bethesda, or DC proper than in Pittsburgh you must not be very familiar with the dining scene in this area. The only place Pittsburgh might have us beat is in the Italian food category but that is my opinion. Even some of the most dink strip malls in Northern Virginia serve phenomenal ethnic food that simply cannot be found in most other places.

That being said the DC area may be a great place to live but it isn't for everyone. You could always go back to the Midwest if you are unhappy.

Last edited by NOVAmtneer82; 07-13-2009 at 01:51 PM..
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Old 07-13-2009, 01:49 PM
 
Location: DC
3,286 posts, read 10,567,747 times
Reputation: 1301
Quote:
Originally Posted by themommy View Post
I agree that I'd like to know what these mass media sources were that were running down your home and painting our area in this apparently glorious light. I've never heard DC described as anything other than exactly what it is. But then, I didn't grow up in the Midwest, so my sources were understandably different...
I have to say, I agree. I didn't move to DC because it is "hip" and certainly never thought of it as such, let alone its suburbs. Actually, I was pleasantly surprised by DC since most of the imagery I had heard wasn't exactly flattering (soulless, boring, people come in only to work so the city dies after 5pm, sterile, etc).

However, like you I am not from the Midwest, so maybe that makes a difference.
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Old 07-13-2009, 01:50 PM
 
5,071 posts, read 8,616,501 times
Reputation: 2722
Quote:
Originally Posted by NOVAmtneer82 View Post
I really don't understand why so many people refer to Northern Virginia like it is some major metropolitan area without any connection whatsoever to DC. Aside from Arlington, and Alexandria City (not "faux Alexandria") the rest of Northern Virginia is predominantly a suburban type atmosphere that can be encountered in most other suburban areas. The main differences being a more ethnically diverse population, higher education levels, slightly more urban/semi-urban environment and higher incomes. I certainly don't hear you treating Wheaton, Evanston, Naperville or other Chicago burbs as seperate entities from the Chicagoland area. Why is Northern Virginia different?

Not sure really what comprises a "cool restaurant" but if the only restaurants you took your friend to were in suburban Fairfax County then she might as well have compared the dining scene to that of suburban Pittsburgh not in the city itself. If you can't find better places to eat in Old Town, Arlington, Bethesda, or DC proper than in Pittsburgh you must not be very familiar with the dining scene in this area. Even some of the most dink strip malls in Northern Virginia serve phenomenal ethnic food that simply cannot be found in most other places.

That being said the DC area may be a great place to live but it isn't for everyone. You could always go back to the Midwest if you are unhappy.
Great post - I think another poster (athousandlogins?) also pointed out that folks in this area really have to look past some of their prejudices against strip malls if they want to discover some of the funky stores and restaurants that are far more likely to be found in NoVa than a lot of other areas. I get the sense that some of the posters would really only like a great Indian or Vietnamese restaurant if it were in a converted church or fire house and the other customers were all under 30 and either were wearing bike shorts or had multiple piercings (or both).

I dunno, I kind of groaned when Alicia said she was planning her next move to Fairfax City - not that it's not nice, but I just don't see it meeting her rather high expectations. It's as if Scranny told us that he couldn't take the "sterility" of Reston any longer and had decided to move to Ashburn Village!

Last edited by JD984; 07-13-2009 at 03:17 PM..
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Old 07-13-2009, 02:44 PM
 
Location: Falls Church, VA
722 posts, read 1,752,008 times
Reputation: 316
Quote:
Originally Posted by NOVAmtneer82 View Post
Even some of the most dink strip malls in Northern Virginia serve phenomenal ethnic food that simply cannot be found in most other places.
Seriously - anyone who doesn't know where to start should start here: Tyler Cowen's Ethnic Dining Guide: Welcome (http://www.tylercowensethnicdiningguide.com/2006/09/welcome_1.php - broken link)


I lived in the Midwest for 2 years. It was okay, just not for me. But one thing I did notice was that people there - particularly natives - had this complex about the East Coast. It was this weird love/hate thing. One newspaper article I remember actually referred to the "Boston-New York-DC axis of evil." LOL.

I can walk and bike to many, many, many more places in NoVA than I could where I lived in the Midwest. But at the same time, there's nothing hip about where I live here in NoVA. This place is like a hipness black hole. Which is totally fine by me now that I'm married with kids - as a matter of fact, I'm lame enough now to fit right in. But I'd probably hate it here if I was 22 and just out of college like ScranBarre.
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Old 07-13-2009, 03:32 PM
 
Location: South South Jersey
1,652 posts, read 3,400,983 times
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Ok, just to clear one point up - when I mean "hip," I don't mean "bars." I don't even drink, in fact. What I mean, essentially, is indie/interesting (but still upscale, if it's the right context for that) Mom & Pop commercial options - coffee shops, bookstores, cafes, toy stores (for all you self-described "non-hip" moms out there)... I also get claustrophobic living in (but LOVE to visit) very high-density places. That (and the price) is why, say, Arlington isn't really an option for me. But to answer ScranBarre's question at the beginning of this thread - yes, my roomie and I are going to buy a house next year, when roomie will still be (just barely) twenty-something. And I'll be 33.

I do love all the awesome ethnic dining options in D.C., and here's my theory on that: most of the Americans who come here aren't entrepreneurial types. They're bureaucratic types, the kind of people my mom would describe as "not having very good taste" However, in D.C. you do have a large pool of immigrants from all over the world, most of whom, obviously, are not U.S. gov't bureaucrats and would also have very good reason to explore entrepreneurship. They get familiar with the area, reach the same conclusion I have ("Where are all the good restaurants?"), recall that they can make some mean <random dish from their nation of origin>, and open a restaurant. They're successful, expand, tweak their recipes, and voilą - D.C.'s thousands of famous ethnic eateries. (Of course, you usually have lots of good ethnic eateries is most other large U.S. cities, but D.C. is the only city I've lived where, if you want really good food, you should almost always turn to ethnic restaurants.)

Oh, and to touch back on the topic of an earlier thread (where we we discussing why the NoVA suburbs look different from suburbs of Northern cities) - yeah, this area is suburban. But the suburbia I grew up with was dotted with cute little historic downtown areas with newer McMansion areas between them. So, in most cases, you could have your cake (cute little downtown area with hipness - and, again, I don't mean bars.. I mean cool indie shops and such) and eat it too (be in a lower density setting geographically closer to "the sticks"/truly natural areas than would be the big metro's city center).

Last edited by Alicia Bradley; 07-13-2009 at 03:53 PM..
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Old 07-13-2009, 03:36 PM
 
Location: Springfield VA
4,037 posts, read 8,061,058 times
Reputation: 1499
I don't know I have to say that I like this area. There are certainly things that I don't like about NOVA but the good outweighs the bad. There's plenty to do in DC. Plenty of places to shop and yes there are plenty of good restaurants. Like someone said you have to get over a hatred of strip malls there's every ethnicity in VA and plenty of good restaurants.

I have to agree that treating NoVA like it is it's own city is silly. These are suburbs. If you don't like the suburban atmosphere then move to DC or Arlington. If that's too expensive then be inspired to aspire. If you are blessed with a car then gas it up and head into town it's not THAT far. If you're still unhappy then plot your escape, trust me there are plenty of people out there in recessionland who want your job. That's not to be ugly. Just why be unhappy? This area is never going to be granola or funky. I guess Adams Morgan has a funky vibe to it and I love U street.

I guess I can appreciate the burbs because I grew up in the last middle class family in a fairly bad neighborhood that once upon a time was a pleasant working class neighborhood. I grew up in a neighborhood where college was practically unheard of, a former classmate killed two doors down, another classmate turning tricks, and I remember almost getting mugged in broad daylight. Now I live in a nice apartment complex with a pool and almost no crime. So I definitely appreciate pleasant boring suburbia. I'd rather be bored than scared. Do I want to live in the city? Of course but the only thing I can afford in the city involves either an overcrowded group house or dodging bullets. No thank you. One day a cute little rowhouse off U street so I'm just going to be inspired to aspire. So yeah again appreciate what you have.
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Old 07-13-2009, 03:39 PM
 
Location: Springfield VA
4,037 posts, read 8,061,058 times
Reputation: 1499
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alicia Bradley View Post
Ok, just to clear one point up - when I mean "hip," I don't mean "bars." I don't even drink, in fact. What I mean, essentially, is indie/interesting (but still upscale, if it's the right context for that) Mom & Pop commercial options - coffee shops, bookstores, cafes, toy stores (for all you self-described "non-hip" moms out there)... I also get claustrophobic living in (but LOVE to visit) very high-density places. That (and the price) is why, say, Arlington isn't really an option for me. But to answer ScranBarre's question at the beginning of this thread - yes, my roomie and I are going to buy a house next year, when roomie will still be (just barely) twenty-something. And I'll be 33.
Good luck with the house. I like indie stuff but to me that's not a priority. Does the business sell what I need at a reasonable price is the only thing I care about.
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Old 07-13-2009, 04:18 PM
 
5,071 posts, read 8,616,501 times
Reputation: 2722
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alicia Bradley View Post
Ok, just to clear one point up - when I mean "hip," I don't mean "bars." I don't even drink, in fact. What I mean, essentially, is indie/interesting (but still upscale, if it's the right context for that) Mom & Pop commercial options - coffee shops, bookstores, cafes, toy stores (for all you self-described "non-hip" moms out there)... I also get claustrophobic living in (but LOVE to visit) very high-density places. That (and the price) is why, say, Arlington isn't really an option for me. But to answer ScranBarre's question at the beginning of this thread - yes, my roomie and I are going to buy a house next year, when roomie will still be (just barely) twenty-something. And I'll be 33.

I do love all the awesome ethnic dining options in D.C., and here's my theory on that: most of the Americans who come here aren't entrepreneurial types. They're bureaucratic types, the kind of people my mom would describe as "not having very good taste" However, in D.C. you do have a large pool of immigrants from all over the world, most of whom, obviously, are not U.S. gov't bureaucrats and would also have very good reason to explore entrepreneurship. They get familiar with the area, reach the same conclusion I have ("Where are all the good restaurants?"), recall that they can make some mean <random dish from their nation of origin>, and open a restaurant. They're successful, expand, tweak their recipes, and voilą - D.C.'s thousands of famous ethnic eateries. (Of course, you usually have lots of good ethnic eateries is most other large U.S. cities, but D.C. is the only city I've lived where, if you want really good food, you should almost always turn to ethnic restaurants.)

Oh, and to touch back on the topic of an earlier thread (where we we discussing why the NoVA suburbs look different from suburbs of Northern cities) - yeah, this area is suburban. But the suburbia I grew up with was dotted with cute little historic downtown areas with newer McMansion areas between them. So, in most cases, you could have your cake (cute little downtown area with hipness - and, again, I don't mean bars.. I mean cool indie shops and such) and eat it too (be in a lower density setting geographically closer to "the sticks"/truly natural areas than would be the big metro's city center).
It sounds as the areas in this region with the amenities you seek are too crowded for your tastes and that the areas with the density you prefer are too suburban and not cute enough. I sympathize to a point, because there are undoubtedly areas outside of Boston, Chicago and even New York that would fit you to a T, but you are not going to find them here, if Del Ray, Old Town or Arlington don't meet your requirements. I really hope you spend more time in the City of Fairfax before you buy a house there.

DC is undoubtedly full of bureaucratic types, but there's really not an inherent tension between an interest in Government service and good taste in restaurants. Brussels is the political capital of the European Union and it has fabulous restaurants. It's sweet that you quote your parents so often, but that doesn't mean they necessarily know what they're talking about when it comes to this area.

Last edited by JD984; 07-13-2009 at 04:41 PM..
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Old 07-13-2009, 04:56 PM
 
Location: Falls Church, VA
722 posts, read 1,752,008 times
Reputation: 316
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alicia Bradley View Post
What I mean, essentially, is indie/interesting (but still upscale, if it's the right context for that) Mom & Pop commercial options - coffee shops, bookstores, cafes, toy stores (for all you self-described "non-hip" moms out there)...
Where I live now has all of these things in walking distance from my front door, minus the bookstore. But it's still not hip. I don't know why, but NoVA just isn't very hip. Maybe things just cost too much here - if housing prices are absurd then the population is going to be older (bought before the bubble) and more conservative (works 90 hours a week to pay for the housing). Plus, commercial rents are high.

The DC area has had a ton of independent booksellers go under in the last few years. Beloved stores like Vertigo and Olsson's. Even though this is a place where people read and attend bookstore events a lot. The model of the cute little indie bookstore doesn't work anymore. And coffee shops don't fare a whole lot better; Murky closed earlier this year and the place was always packed. It is sad, but defining a desirable area by the number of independent bookstores and coffee shops is going to make a lot of the area undesirable pretty quickly.
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Old 07-13-2009, 06:39 PM
 
240 posts, read 171,895 times
Reputation: 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evidence-is-key View Post
people make such a big deal about this! why is it not ok to disclose one salary? i wouldn't necessarily tell other co workers or 'some' friends....due to the possiblity of jealousy etc. but telling random people over the net for the sake of helping them out....what's wrong with that?
i hate the way people in this area of VA are SOOOO uptight!

loosen up!!!
OK, fine - maybe it's OK on the net. That's a good point. I just saw closeup personally how disastrous it was for some coworkers to find out my salary. They knew I was a higher level than they were, but they did not realize how much someone at that higher level makes I guess. Anyway, caused a lot of tension for awhile. I guess on the internet where you are maybe anonymous (depending on what userid you pick) it's OK in some cases. Anyway, I don't need to loosen up, thank you very much. Actually, you sound pretty uptight and wound up from that post of yours, if I say so myself!
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