Last week’s City Paper had a really good article entitled “A Line in the Sandbox” that discussed some of the trials and tribulations of a particular DC Public School principal at the hands of some wealthy, oppositional defiant Dupont residents.
Several pages into that article was an aside discussing a particular condominium association that was attempting to regulate playground time at the school across the street because of the noise of the children playing. That little adjunct incensed me and prompted me to write my first ever letter to the editor. It didn’t get printed in today’s edition, so I’m posting it here.
Washington City Paper
2390 Champlain St. NW
Washington, DC 20009
June 16, 2006
Dear Mr. Editor,
Buried seven pages into the excellent “A Line in the Sandbox” is a rare glimpse into the mind of the so-called “guilty liberal” that has become so commonplace in Northwest DC. The few paragraphs devoted to Jeff Wise, Scott Henrichsen, and the Pierre Condominium’s objection to the noise of children on the playground reminds me of a town neighboring the one in which I grew up. As is typical of Midwestern suburbia, a grove of cookie-cutter houses was springing up in a small field, although this one happened to be across the street from the local municipal airport. No more than a few years passed before the residents in those new neighborhoods began pushing to get the airport closed – or at least restricted – because of the noisy Cessnas approaching for landing over the homes. The gall and/or stupidity of those residents quite appropriately elicits at least a response of astonishment, if not anger.
As one of the so-called gentrifiers, who probably paid too much for his nine hundred square feet of Logan Circle, I am often baffled at why we are decried by our new neighbors despite the socio-political leanings that would seem to make us their best allies. The selfish and self-righteous attitude of Mr. Wise and his fellow Pierre residents at least partially allays my confusion. Wise’s incredulity at the parents’ powerful response to regulating their children’s playground – however inappropriate that response may have been – demonstrates a profound lack of real connection to the community in which he lives. It’s not because he’s gay, it’s because he’s an asshole – the modern-day urban equivalent of the stereotypical angry old geezer shaking his fist and hollering at “those dang kids” to keep off the lawn.
If peace and quiet are really what he and his fellow Pierre owners desire, perhaps they should not have chosen to live in the city. Sirens, traffic, car alarms, and other such urban noises are certainly at least as cacophonous as children playing. I would wager that the Virginia and Maryland exurbs could offer a quiet, idyllic street not only on the weekends, but all week long! For everyone’s sake, let’s hope they don’t buy near an airport.
With Best Regards,