Among middle Americans the most despised place in the country. Why? It's really a crude projection: Americans despise their politicians, especially the ones at a distance, and you know where they all hang out; that's Washington for you.
For me it was very different: Washington is the center attracting the brightest people in the world. Of course if I had been raised in Cambridge or Berkeley, I no doubt would have felt differently. In fact a knew a boy educated at Cambridge who felt like he had been exiled to Washington-- to do trivial things like writing speeches for Kissinger.
But as I said, for me it was very different; I was raised in Calhoun, Clay, and Clayton, LA., the deepest depressions of Middle America. Mother and Dad went to college at LA Tech when I was 8 and 10. They came home and talked about their PhD professors: Whiskers, Windbag, and a few other complimentary names. I got a dim view of academicians.
At 40 I had gotten as far as Winston-Salem, NC. A party of Baptists were going up to D.C. to visit the Church of the Saviour. Ellie and I joined them. It was one of the most creative weekends of our lives.
In two years we lived up there -- for the next14 years in fact. We had met a church full of beautiful people, and many of them were Ph.D.'s, although they went by Bill, Harry, Tom, etc.
I had never had the privilege of exposure to those kinds of minds in an intimate relationship. Washington was beautiful.
As the years went by, it wasn't politicians that impressed me. It was the Nat'l Gallery, the Catholic church where they performed the St. Matthew's Passion. And it was Adams Morgan and Columbia Rd, where gather the melting pot: blacks, yellows, Latins, Ethiopeans; but these were the smartest and the brightest of their kind.
I went back to visit at my old job in the courthouse at WS. A former associate said he wouldn't be caught dead in that hell hole; I thought "you poor provincial boob", but I said nothing. Later my former boss there told me to look for a place for him. He was from Indiana and had been around a bit.
What you think of D.C. is a function of your own personal experiences. Have you had any?