Wednesday, February 25, 2004

LIVE FROM OUR NATION'S CAPITAL. I'm down in the D.C. area for my semi-annual Von Hippel-Lindau examination at the National Institutes of Health. Don't worry, libertarians, this is a fair, one might even say laissez-faire, trade; the Feds get to study my rare genetic disorder toward the purpose of finding a cure for cancer, and I get treatment if things go wrong. Beside, fuck you, I like big government, and the NIH is big government at its best. The NIH does great work -- NIH-funded scientists just won another Nobel for chemistry -- while your big-pharma buddies were spending billions trying to get one boner pill to sell better than another.

I also like hanging around D.C., though I haven't had much time for it on this trip so far. The neighborhood near my hotel (Calvert and Wisconsin) seemed pretty luxe. When I got in around 9:30 pm, the few people on the street were either jogging or on their way to party at Marguerita-and-vanitas joints of the sort popular across American in the 1980s.

I usually wind up staying in one part of Georgetown or another. Everyone there seems extremely well-off. Yuppies in D.C. dress a little differently than they do back in New York. In New York business dress is a concession to necessity or an assertion of raw power. Here it seems more signficant in the clinical sense: clothes announce niche. There are dogged wonks and nerds in suits that are of excellent material but never hang right from their hunched shoulders; activists in courderoy pants and frayed oxfords; Republicans with flag pins; mysterious white-haired bulls giving off a faint aroma of power, their ties enigmatically ensigned. Women of this class actually dress more interestingly here than they do in Manhattan -- my favorite this time wore an impeccable powder-blue wool coat (!) with matching leather gloves -- and have a greater tendency toward opaque stockings.

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