Earlier Wednesday, to the delight of the Internet, Forbes Magazine, henceforth known as “the arbiter of cool,” made a declaration that got some laughs. Namely, that Washington tops the list of America’s coolest cities.
Perhaps it’s appropriate that something with exactly as much social cachet as a public ranking should be the thing to come to the city’s defense. (And there’s no question that too often at holiday parties, or at some distant relative’s wedding, a defense of D.C.-dwelling must be made.) But nobody in D.C. lives here because they think it’s cool, or because they think somebody else might think it’s cool. There are a lot of reasons to live in the District, most of them including various degrees of nerdiness, but “cool” is simply not one of them.
If you’re a pointy-headed health care policy person, if you’re passionate about education reform, if you want to be a journalist or make your mark in international development — then you might want to consider moving here or at least staying past the end of your summer internship. But keeping up with the latest trend? I’m afraid you have the wrong city.
Forbes’s reasoning essentially boils down to this: There are a lot of millennials in D.C., and “many museums along the National Mall,” to say nothing of “simply enjoying the cherry blossoms in springtime.” Find me a hipster enjoying the cherry blossoms in springtime and I’ll find you a cherry on the moon. Sure D.C. has a few good bars, and certainly a few more now than it used to, but most people in the District aren’t above getting a drink at Lauriol Plaza.
Indeed, to ask if D.C. is cool is to misunderstand the city completely. CityLab‘s Sommer Mathis presciently anticipated this mistaken effort to lend the nation’s capital (because yes, that’s something America’s “coolest city” sometimes gets called) some cool, explaining in The Washington Post that people in D.C. simply don’t care.
“D.C. is a city of smart people,” Derek Brown, who runs a mini-empire of craft cocktail bars and restaurants in the District, told her at the time. “What’s making D.C. cool is the fact that smart people doing things they’re passionate about is cool.” He was right about the smart, but not the cool.
Yet the Forbes list does not seem to be entirely off. Other cities that top its ranking, including Seattle, Los Angeles, and New York, do appear to have that glimmer of hipness. But putting D.C. at the top of the cool list is a Slate-pitch too far.
Nobody actually believes D.C. is hip, with the exception of certain mayoral candidates hoping to win over millennials. We’ll stick with our bureaucrats, blazers, horrible income disparities, and political disenfranchisement. Thanks, though!
What We're Following See More »
"Eight people were rescued and three remained missing after a U.S. Navy plane crashed into the western Pacific Ocean on Wednesday, the Navy said. The C-2 “Greyhound” transport aircraft came down about 500 nautical miles (925 kilometers) southeast of Okinawa as it was bringing passengers and cargo from Japan to the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, the Navy said in a statement."
Special counsel Robert Mueller "is now demanding documents from the department overseeing his investigation." A source tells ABC News that "Mueller's investigators are keen to obtain emails related to the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the earlier decision of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the entire matter."
"President Donald Trump would not insist on including repeal of an Obama-era health insurance mandate in a bill intended to enact the biggest overhaul of the tax code since the 1980s, a senior White House aide said on Sunday. The version of tax legislation put forward by Senate Republican leaders would remove a requirement in former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law that taxes Americans who decline to buy health insurance."
"Members of Congress with histories of mistreating women should be extremely nervous. Major outlets, including CNN, are dedicating substantial newsroom resources to investigating sexual harassment allegations against numerous lawmakers. A Republican source told me he's gotten calls from well-known D.C. reporters who are gathering stories about sleazy members."