Cockburn was waiting to get his beard trimmed at the barber recently and found himself flicking through the latest issue of the Washingtonian, an outlet where fangirling over the Biden administration passes as journalism and a love of America’s dreary capital substitutes for a personality.
The issue in question featured Washingtonian’s annual best of list. This is supposed to be a list of bars, restaurants, people and other stuff that makes DC such a great place to live. But this year’s offering had Cockburn browsing Zillow for homes in Ketchum, Idaho, faster than you can say ‘Fauci Pouchy’.
It’s been years since Cockburn relied on the Washingtonian for advice on having a good time in the imperial city, but the 2021 offering is especially unappetizing. Consider, for example, one of their best of subcategories: ‘Great New Ways to Have Fun in DC’. Among the exciting new innovations: a bar that caters to needy millennial owners of even needier dogs; a library with a roof; a new book about the Senate filibuster.
Washingtonian’s ‘Ten Best Things to Come Out of the Pandemic in DC’ celebrates the ‘permission to slow down’ (as though this town weren’t sleepy enough already), ‘creative outdoor dining’ (a polite way to describe being forced to eat outside in the middle of winter), and ‘to-go cocktails’ (Cockburn’s trusty can in a brown bag is still better than some overpriced 14th Street offering).
Under ‘things we learned about Washington during the pandemic’, Washingtonian lists ‘We believe in science’ (even though all the outdoor masking would suggest otherwise) and ‘we follow rules’. Cockburn can’t argue with the second one: an inveterate rule-breaker, he has been outnumbered in this town for years.
The whole list is also insufferably woke, of course. For instance, Washingtonian lists among its ‘best of’ DC the fact that the Washington Post has made Krissah Thompson its managing editor for diversity and inclusion. ‘Liberal corporation hires diversity and inclusion officer’ is not, in Cockburn’s humble opinion, an especially interesting development. A whole section is dedicated to Chasten Buttigieg and Doug (sorry, Second Gentleman Douglas) Emhoff and their status as trailblazers for being married to politicians.
Whatever happened to DC’s ability to put politics to one side and debate important things like where to get the best martini in town? When did everyone become so self-serious?
Cockburn can agree with the Washingtonian team on one or two things. He too misses the Fiola Mare seafood tower (though not the feeling when the check came) during lockdown. And no oyster happy hour at Old Ebbitt Grill left a gaping hole in his daily routine. But most of this year’s dreary list had him pining for a less sanitized and politically correct incarnation of the city. Cockburn is drawn to trouble like a moth to a flame, but even he finds it hard to get into scrapes these days.
Cockburn is tempted to draw up his own ‘best of’ list. A few establishments that would make the cut:
The freshly reopened Post Pub, of course.
Archibald’s, but only when Cockburn’s good pal Hunter is in town.
Shelly’s, because Cockburn remembers a time when a smoke-filled room wasn’t just a metaphor.
The rooftop at the Watergate Hotel — as long as you’re on Woody’s team when things get ugly.
Mission Navy Yard, mostly because Cockburn has heard that’s where the GOP interns all hang out.
Madam’s Organ, whose owner once complained ‘we’re a blues bar, not al-Qaeda’ during a dispute with the DC government over pandemic rules. Just make sure you don’t Venmo a doorman.
The Cheesecake Factory, to own the libs.