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Showing posts from February, 2012

When a Gas Station is Just a Gas Station

Last week I saw a lot of enthusiastic tweets over the news that WaWa might open some gas stations and convenience stores in DC. I'll fully admit that I do not understand why this is such a special thing.

(from Robert Bruce Murray III // Sort Of Natural on Flickr)

In fact, I remember a similar level of enthusiasm a few months back when a certain chain donut shop opened on U Street. I never got it that time either.

In response, plenty of people have said - I'm from Philly (Boston) and WaWa (Dunkin Donuts) is awesome! But still, why? If you're from suburban Chicago, are you committed to loving McDonalds? If you hail from Seattle, must you think that Starbucks is the greatest thing on the planet?

Having heard all the hype, I went to my first WaWa in Virginia Beach last year. It was very much like many of the other gas stations I've been to in my life. Fine - but not all that different from a Pilot or a nice Speedway as far as I could tell. You could order greasy food from a to…

Counter-Counter Culture

Alex Baca's story on the coffee scene in DC is definitely worth a read. I know that this article has been in talks for a long time, so I'm happy to see it finally come to print, even if I'm way late in making these comments about it.

(from counterculturecoffee on Flickr)

I've expressed my distaste for Counter Culture coffee in the past. I have no reason for disliking it other than the fact that it doesn't taste great.

I recently confirmed this opinion when some friends of the blog hosted a blind coffee tasting. Four of us tasted 4 coffees, including one Counter Culture roast. I picked the Counter Culture as the worst tasting, and none of the other tasters picked it as their favorite. It was hardly a scientific study; but it did confirm my personal belief that there's something off with their coffee.

It irks me that so many of DC's "independent" coffee shops serve Counter Culture, because I don't like it. I especially dislike the company's requ…

Cities as Vacation Destinations

DCist highlights a U.S. News list of the best vacation destinations. I think the places on the list can be categorized one of three ways:
Major cities (New York, Washington, San Francisco)Beaches (Maui, Miami Beach, Honolulu)"Destinations" (Disney World, Las Vegas, Yosemite)I get why people want to vacation on the beach or go to Disney World or Vegas. I've done all of these things personally. But I've always been curious about what people find appealing about vacationing in cities. I love to do it - but I'm also much more urban-minded than the typical American.

(from Thomas Hawk on Flickr)

If you look at the cities on the U.S. news list, you'll see that they share one key thing in common: ability to walk around. Why does New York, San Francisco and Chicago make this list while Dallas, Atlanta and Houston get left behind? They're all part of the 10 largest metro areas, after all. They're all huge cities with big economies and lots of stuff to do.

When I li…

In Fast Food News...

When I saw this article yesterday, I felt a little sad and embarrassed that I actually lived and went to school in University Heights, Ohio. The article is about how the mayor proclaimed February 10th "McDonald's Day" in celebration of a new "state-of-the-art" fast food restaurant that just opened up.
(from WanderingWhitehorse on Flickr)
Now, to put this into some context, this McDonald's replaced a really awful strip mall, so on-balance, the area is still as sprawly and suburbanized as it gets. I just don't understand what's so special about a new McDonald's though...

But there's more. The mayor went on to call this an "environmentally friendly" McDonald's store. A few paragraphs down, you learn that it features a double drive through. Now twice as many people in cars can buy hamburgers and fries without leaving their vehicles!

Honestly, you can't make this stuff up. The fact that this is as newsworthy as it is (ie. at all) an…

Electric Cars

The documentary Revenge of the Electric Car opens with a shot of a busy, congested Los Angeles freeway. A voice begins talking about how LA's freeways are great. How they've enabled mobility... how they've allowed businesses to spring up around them. The problem, the voice says, is that almost none of the cars driving on these freeways are electric.
(from alforque on Flickr)
Already, 30 seconds into the movie and I'm cringing, wondering how I'm going to get through an hour and a half of fetishizing electric cars and "happy motoring" as Jim Kunstler would say.

It's true that having lots of gasoline powered vehicles polluting cities is a problem - it's a big problem. But to think that it will be some kind of paradise when LA's freeways are packed, jammed and congested with electric vehicles is a bit silly, to be frank.

Electric car proponents do seem genuinely concerned with the environment - at least I don't think they're putting on an act.…