Capital Citizen with Clinton Yates (Mar. 3)

Mar 03, 2014

Local columnist Clinton Yates takes your questions about politics, pop culture, people and whatever else you like from D.C.

How's everyone doing this week, gang? Hope everyone is staying safe in the snow. I wrote a column on Friday about D.C. and young men of color in this city. If you didn't get a chance to read it, you can here

Wondering what your professional path was to here. Where did you work, what did you cover before this, both Post and elsewhere? Inquiring minds...

Well, I did radio and wrote in college (mainly sports), went on to do it after that, then came back to D.C. and continued doing it. Most recently, I was an editor at Express, The Washington Post's free daily for 6 years.

What did you think about Idina Menzels performance of "Let it Go", John Travolta's hair, and "Adele Nazeem"??

To be honest, this wasn't really my bag. Fine song and all, but Frozen is not on my radar as something I care about. Not saying it's a bad movie, I just haven't seen it.

As for Travolta's hair, I mean, that's kind of a cheap shot to me. The guy's trying. But that name botch was unforgivable. It's one thing for Tyson Beckford to call Julia Roberts "Jessica" on a red-carpet pre-show, but it's quite another to screw-up reading a teleprompter. 

I've heard reports that he's apparently dyslexic, in which case I wonder why he didn't simply memorize her name beforehand. All that aside, a mistake is a mistake, but if you're going to make a mistake, there's no need to use a weird accent while you do it.

I enjoyed Pharrell's song the most (particularly dancing with Lupita), but I thought Pink's was in fact, the best.

Pharrell's new album is good. How good?

I literally just pressed play on it to listen to for the first time in full while I do this chat. So, I'll let you know by the end, deal?

1. Jeans pulled down and underwear showing in public vs. Tying your own tie 2. Good Game vs. Throwing a fit when a call does not go your way 3. I'm sorry (for real) vs. I'm sorry(to get off the hook) 4. Cleaning your fingernails with a nail file vs. Cleaning the dirt out with your teeth 5. Hat off vs. Wearing a baseball cap with a suit

Ha, well, this is quite the question. Presumably this will lead this chat eventually down the road of being an all-around advice column, but that's a different story. And first of all, none of this has anything to do with being a "gentleman" which is a bogus old-world concept based on foolishness anyways.

1. I'm 32, and people's underwear showing is not something that inherently offends me. That's why they make them in different colors. Also, tying your own tie? As opposed to what? A clip-on? That's for little boys.

2. This is a false construct that creates a weird dichotomy. Anyone who's ever played sports at even the lowest levels knows that these are not the only two options.

3. I have no idea what any of that really means. You probably shouldn't ever say anything you don't mean, if the person you're speaking to can't tell the difference. 


4. Nail files, the last I check were for filing your nails, not cleaning them. That said, I clean/file/groom/whatever my fingernails the same way I have since I was 10. With my mouth.

5. I only wear suits to weddings and funerals. So unless someone's getting married or buried at the ballpark, I can't imagine this situation becoming a problem. 

Mr. Yates, the Prince of Petworth posted a "13 best things about living in the District" I wondered what your thoughts were on it? I think this list is far too generic, although its got some good points. What would be on your list?

Yeah, I mean, and not to discredit Dan Silverman, who writes that blog, but I think generic is generally what he goes for. 

What's becoming more present to me is that when you grow up in a city, it's hard to really answer a question like that because the reasons I like D.C. are always going to be so personal that it's tough for that to really translate to a random person.

For example, I like it because I see a lot of people I've known since I was a kid suddenly doing relatively well and happy. Of course, I'm lucky for that. But the familiarity bred within me about so many different parts of the city is what I love most. 

But the number 1 item on that list is probably correct. And writing about those people is exactly what I try to do. Which is something I enjoy.

There's a snowball fight in Dupont Circle coming up later today, have you ever taken part in one of these events?

Actually, I have important snowball fight breaking news, per my colleague Fritz Hahn. The Dupont Circle event has been moved to the National Mall. Details on other openings/closing can be found here.

As for snowball fights, I'm honestly stunned these things don't get WAY more out of hand more often. No matter who you are, when you got popped in the face with a snowball, your feelings are a little hurt. When it's someone you don't know, that can get dicey, haha.

A couple years ago I was walking with a friend on 14th street when some teenage kids started randomly throwing snowballs at me. I caught one, returned that fire and then hit them with like 3 more before heading off. They apologized.

But, the wildest incident of all time at one of these things has to be when that police officer got out and started waving his gun around after his car got hit at 14th and U. That was flat out scary.

If you don't remember that, check out the story here. Seriously, it's worth a read and there's video, which is bananas.

Do you watch? After an initial resistance I've given in and despite a few quibbles with the production style I'm finding it thoroughly enjoyable. Would love to hear the thoughts of a fellow native.

I don't watch it. Not yet. I'm kind of torn about binge watching, honestly. 

I did it with Orange is the New Black, but found the experience to be slightly odd. After you watch them, who can you really talk to about it, besides maybe the person you watched it with? 

The chronology of the shared experience is all screwed up because you have to ask people how much they've watched, etc., and it's hard to follow the ups and downs collectively as well. 

I feel like if I was going to do a Netflix series, I'd put the season premier and finale on TV. Tell people those dates. Then make them all available (save those two) in-between those days.

That way, everyone can start together, catch up as needed on their own, then when it's time to finish up, you can all come back together on it. 

I do plan to start watching soon.

One of the WaPo's columnists - Eugene Robinson? - suggested some of the weaker candidates for mayor should get out now. Do you think any of them are likely to bow out soon, and care to place bets on who leaves first?

I actually will have a column about this coming out later this week. But, to that point, I think we've gotten beyond the timeframe where dropping out makes sense. We're less than a month away from the Democratic primary, and jumping ship now just seems like an overall waste of money.

And again, with the mayor being in the position he's in as the incumbent, you literally never know what story could come up and shift everything. To quote a Donald Rumsfeld, we're now in the territory in which a candidate stays in because of potential "unknown unknowns."

Best album of the 90's is clearly Beck - Odelay, right?

When I was in Miami last week, I almost bought his new album on wax. Rolling Stone called it 'dad rock.' Then I saw his performance on SNL and immediately regretted not making that purchase. 

Check that out if you get the chance, and check out Sweat Records in Little Haiti in Miami if you're ever down there.

To answer your question, though, no. It's not even Beck's best album of the 90s. That would be Midnite Vultures. And the best song on that is Debra. 

Give it a listen. 

Do you think the city should be spending the time/money on putting Pepco's primary lines underground?

This question I presume relates to the fact that the Mayor signed a bill today saying that the city would pursue this option to prevent more power outages during things like derechos. I believe the pricetag is somewhere around $1B.

There are obvious pros and cons with this, but this is a situation where all things being equal (meaning, efficient construction and presumably reasonable cost), I don't think 'hassle' qualifies as a reasonable con.

If it can legit prevent people, even if in 5 years from dealing with freak outages it's a good thing. Some things take a long time to build and some are worth it. If this can happen without any outside hiccups, I'd say yes, it's worth it. 

Gray canceled his State of the District speech, but what do you think he was going to say?

I don't have any inside information, but I can imagine it'd have gone something like this. (It was supposed to be held at Kelly Miller school, btw - a darling facility in education circles.)

- A lot of talk about construction and cranes.

- Discussion of the city's surplus.

- Progress on making D.C. a world-class place and bringing jobs via places like Wal-Mart.

Anything though, would be better than last year's speech, held at Sixth And I Historic Synagogue. That one featured more sports references than anybody needed. I wrote about it at the time.

Do you have to go into the office or do you get to stay home on a day like today? How much snow do you have? Still pouring down in Alexandria - I think we have 6-8 inches.

Some days I'm in the newsroom, some days I'm not. It just depends. Here in D.C., there's enough snow to make me want to wear a hat and boots. But 6-8 inches there is not. Stay warm!

Alright, kiddos, we've come to the end of the hour and this Pharrell album (it's excellent) has me up and dancing, which means it's time for me to go do that. It's how I exercise. Just kidding.

If you're stuck at home and want to be jealous of my colleague and friend James Wagner, you can flip over to watch the Nationals play the Yankees on MLB Network.

So, until next week, have a good one. Safety first.

In This Chat
Clinton Yates
Clinton Yates is a D.C. native and an online columnist. He was born at GWU hospital the week before Ronald Reagan ended up there for the wrong reasons. When he's not covering the city, pop culture or listening to music, he watches sports. A lot of them.
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