Friday, April 25, 2008

#15 Pictures of GWB

Happy weekend!

We'll be back next week.

Unless another writer's strike happens.

Friday, April 18, 2008

#14 Hangovers

We have one. See you on Monday.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

#13 Robert Byrd

In the beginning, most Hill People are insecure, lost, and generally confused on account of the fast-paced DC life. They've packed all of their stuff into a U-Haul, moved to a misleadingly named "English Basement", and furnished it with IKEA's fall 2006, which of course far exceeded their means anyway. There's little in this cold and heartless city for a young, impressionable soul to hold on to, so Hill People tend to search for someone they can turn to in a time of need, a person they can count on to be a constant in these scary times. Who is this person you ask?

Senator Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia).

Senator Byrd is an old mofo. Born in 1917 and in the Senate since 1959, Big Bob is the oldest and longest serving member of the Senate. Not only is he good at staying alive (he should go pro), he's good at making lowly Hill People, as well as all of America, laugh their asses off. A Hill Person may be having a crappy day-- one that consists of a grumpy chief of staff, even grumpier constituents, and a Member who keeps randomly disappearing for "lunch dates" just to make their scheduler's life hell. Said Hill Person knows that they can get that little reminder of why they're here, of why they do what they do, and at the same time forget about their pointless and utterly useless lives, just by watching Robert Byrd do what he does best: talk in an an incessantly loud voice.

When Michael Vick accidentally drowned/electrocuted those pets of his who kept losing their dogfights (I mean really, what else are you supposed to do with losers), Robert Byrd was especially pissed. He could be seen on the floor of the Senate, yelling "BARBARIC!" over and over again for an awkwardly long period of time. It went on so long with such lengthy pauses and such sustained volume and fist-pumping, one had to wonder if this was man or robot? If it was man, was he actually aware of his actions, or was he sort of kind of on human auto-pilot?

Hill People often get scared whenever Robert Byrd closes his eyes, because they half expect him not to open them again. In fact, every blink is a glorious surprise and cause for celebration. Sometimes, his eyes stay closed for a few seconds, and the Hill Person starts to wonder, is this the end? Have I lost the meaning of my life? Who will take over Appropriations???

And then, like a college student waking up with his pants on backwards in front of the library at noon on a Tuesday.... his eyes open, he seems slightly confused about his whereabouts, wonders how he got there and what exactly he is currently doing... and he continues to preside over the federal budget markup.

And who can forget the memorable time Harry Reid delivered his emotional speech about 9/11. However, attention was taken away from that wily Nevadan by the image of our hero Robert Byrd sleeping, wait, not just sleeping, full out drooling in the background. Hill People everywhere IMed their co-workers (it was pre-gchat, aka the Dark Age) telling them to turn on channel 8 and wondering whether it was too soon to laugh out loud during a speech on 9/11. Hopefully, for the salvation of the average Hill Person, it wasn't, because otherwise we'll see you all in hell.

But the Hill Person's favorite part about Robert Byrd is the chance encounter with him in the hallway. While trudging through the Capitol to drop off another doomed amendment they spent the last month working on, feeling sad about their lack of impact on the world, they see a flash of white hair, a small man, surrounded by 65 aides but allowing none to help him. Robert Byrd shuffles slowly towards the Senate floor, yelled at the top of his lungs, or at a whisper for all he knows, "MAKE WAY FOR LIBERTY!!!"

Hill People frequently ask themselves questions after an encounter with Big Byrd:

1. Why is he screaming?
2. Why is he referring to himself as liberty?
3. How is he still alive?
4. Does he even know he's alive?
5. OMG Maybe he actually thinks his name IS Liberty!

Suddenly, the Hill Person remembers, this is what it's all about. Despite the obvious senility displayed by the statement, it sheds light on the most fundamental truth of the Hill Person's life. Every day they come into work, slave away for little pay and even less recognition, and endure the wrath of the constituents they spend all day working for, all because they truly do care about "making way" for "liberty."

For the typical Hill Person, Robert Byrd is one of the rare highlights of everyday life. As long as he's alive and kickin', it behooves all Hill People to do what he asks.... and make way for f-ing liberty.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

#12 Fro-yo

There comes a time in every Hill Person's day when work just starts to get to them. Somewhere between the incessant constituent phone calls, the unbearable meetings with borderline retarded representatives of interest groups that probably shouldn't have a voice in the federal governmet, and the constant background noise of interns talking about Baby Suri, the Hill Person starts to forget why they ever took this job in the first place. They start to despair that perhaps it is all in vain, that maybe the naysayers were right when they said an entry-level job on the Hill was about as glamorous as working at a Chinese massage parlor, and paid less too.

Then, they remember the best part of the day (besides their morning glimpse of the Senator on his way to the bathroom). The reason they are able to drag themselves out of bed in the morning, brave the red line crammed with hundreds of unpatriotic drones heading to their meaningless office jobs, and sit at a desk all day pretending to care about the concerns of constituents.


Not only is it delicious and questionably low-fat, but due to the tax-exempt status of items purchased on the Hill, it's cheap enough for the average Hill Person to afford on a daily basis, assuming they didn't splurge on an off-campus meal that afternoon. If you walk into either the Dirksen basement or the Rayburn cafeteria circa 2:30 PM on the average workday, you will see Hill People walking in pairs or groups, casually eating their Fro-Yo and subtly but forcefully trying to prove that they are more up to date on current events than their companion(s). Commons topics include the day's NYT editorials ("Maureen Dowd is, like, totally on Obama's balls"), upcoming votes ("Ugh, F this vote-a-rama! Homie is just going to veto it anyway!") and whether or not McCain is going to live until November 2008 ("Our death pool is up to, like, $300!!")

Another brilliantly useful aspect of the Fro-Yo break is that it allows young, socially awkward Hill People to go on pseudo-dates. Even less legitimate than the lunch date, the (heteronormative) Fro-Yo date usually transpires as follows.

9 AM - 2:30 PM: Male Hill Person nervously works up courage to ask attractive-for-DC female Hill Person to get Fro-Yo.

2:30 PM - 2:35 PM: Hill People walk down to cafeteria together, bitching about their day so far

2:35 PM - 2:40 PM: Hill People discuss flavors. Ugh, it's always double dutch chocolate and vanilla. Remember that awesome day they had peanut butter??? I almost had $2 worth!

2:40 PM - 2:45 PM: Male Hill Person graciously pays for female Hill Person's Fro-Yo (Nice work champ, you spent a whole $1.50 on a girl! You're definitely going to get some now!!) Hill People walk back to office discussing the day's news. Male Hill Person wonders where this relationship is going. Female Hill Person thinks about how she's going to have to spend an extra 30 minutes at Gold's Gym tonight.

2:45 PM - 6 PM: Both Hill People think about how glorious their next Fro-Yo break will be.

Maybe tomorrow they'll have peanut butter. Here's hoping!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

#11 Loving/Hating Tourists

If Hill People were Facebook friends with tourists, their relationship status would be classified as "It's Complicated."

Among the lower echelons of Congressional staff, about 60 percent of a Hill Person's duties involve constituent relations. People who call or write their senator or congressman are not normal people. They're needy, have too much extra time, and often chemically imbalanced. And what do these people often find would be a nice way to spend a week away from work? Why a trip to Washington, of course, where they can harass Hill People at their place of employment!

A Hill Person is often willing (and required by their employer) to answer phone calls, respond to flag requests, and address form letters to lonely constituents looking for meaning in the abyss that is the federal government. But when said constituent decides to hop on a plane and physically visit said Hill Person, the relationship becomes strained. Hill People would much rather sit at their desk and Gchat or read blogs than walk around the Capitol, performing the equivalent of herding cats through the corridors of history. Then again, a tour often gives a Hill Person a chance to get away from their normal workload and conduct themselves with an air of self importance. Hill People aren't used to other people listening to them, and tourists give them a chance to feel loved. Hence, the love-hate relationship.

Despite the provision of Capitol Hill Fun Time by tourists, their presence still causes deep insecurities to bubble up among Hill People. Tourists, with their lemming-like manners, digital cameras, and CIA shirts, subconsciously remind Hill People of what they used to be, long, long ago (aka two months prior when they first moved to Washington, after spending the summer after college backpacking through Europe). After all, when they were new to DC, they didn't know the quadrant system, where the White House is, or that you should ABSOLUTELY NEVER stand on the left side of the Metro escalator. Deep down, Hill People remember this version of themselves, and it makes them absolutely sick. Therefore, they project this self-hatred of their former self on to tourists.

Still, Hill People know (or are constantly reminded) that these tourists are the same constituents whose tax money pays their meager salaries and inject massive amounts of money into the Washington economy. Therefore, they will always walk this tightrope between reluctant acceptance and absolute spite -- very similar to how they feel about their own careers and self-worth.

Monday, April 14, 2008

#10 Fundraisers

Hill People love any event where they receive attention, but their favorite type is the political fundraiser. These shindigs provide the perfect release from the intense emo angst Hill People feel during the day.

Besides the official function of fundraisers (earning money for a reelection campaign), Hill People find several other perks at attending these mind numbing gatherings. The obvious go-to is free food and alcohol, since Hill People barely make minimum wage. Lowly staff assistants feel entitled to every morsel of the feast because the Savior of America (their boss) paid for it, and their very subsistence relies on the nutrition from this food. Hill People are even courageous enough to risk food poisoning and will pack up picked-over salmon that has been sitting out for 2 hours. While very careful to avoid breaking several ethic laws that their BFF Nancy created, they are brave enough to risk taking toxic fish home.

If soda is at the event, that's even better. Diet Coke benders all week! They will also bring home a platter of cookies from a fundraiser to show their friends and roommates who don't care about America (they are paralegals at law firms) that there are some benefits of indentured servitude, besides that warm and fuzzy feeling they get when their boss votes to give money to poor people or authorize an invasion of Iraq.

Fundraisers also allow Hill People to reminisce about their member's random hometown district that no one really cares about. They like to casually mention to a lobbyist that the shitty beer being served is so awesome because it's brewed back home in Minnesota. At this point, the lobbyist's eyes glaze over with pure apathy. But don't worry. The Hill Person can spice up the conversation by recounting the time their boss (not them) met Barack and how super cool he seemed. So he will definitely be a great prez.

This conversation concludes with the Hill Person handing over their business card.

Another plus for a Hill person is feeling superior to the campaign employees, especially political consultants. Brown v. BOE may have helped end racial segregation, but there's no precedent for ending the division between campaign staff and true Hill People. Hill People have sacrificed a real salary to devote themselves to their beliefs, with the help of Mommy and Daddy. People who have decided to raise money or lobby have done the equivalent to selling their souls to Voldemort. This gives Hill People the right to talk down and occasionally give orders to the Deatheaters, er, campaigners. If they need another beer, don't worry they can just order the paid staff to get one for them. Campaigners just don't understand the sacrifices Hill People have made to follow their dreams.

Now, due to legal restrictions, Hill People can't enjoy the fine life of moneyed DC, unless they stand up to eat their meals (Washington is fixed!). Ultimately, the "lobbyist epiphany" will occur around the age of 35, when a Hill Person suddenly realizes they are not making a difference and they can double their salary by taking a job at a lobbying firm. So in the end, Hill People become the very embodiment of the political consultant they held in such condescending contempt back in the day, if they aren't killed by rotten sushi, first. It's the circle of life.

Friday, April 11, 2008

#9 Tortilla Coast

The local hangout is a staple for any desperate group of people yearning for a sense of belonging in the world (Hill People). The lost souls of 90210 had the Peach Pit, those awkward kids from Bayside had the Max, and those six friends who kept having sex with each other and really had no idea what to do with their lives hung out at the Central Perk. Hill People are much like this.

For them, the place to go drown their sorrows and be with fellow useless and depressed people is Tortilla Coast.

"T-Coast", as Hill People so cleverly call it, is located on the corner of First and D Street, SE. It has large windows looking out toward the street so Hill People can sit and judge those walking by, while they attempt to ignore the fact that they're drinking crappy beer at a fake Mexican restaurant.

Tortilla Coast, much like Hill People, is not particularly exciting. The ambience is lacking, the food is sub-par, and the drinks are over-priced. It's the restaurant manifestation of a Hill Person. And Hill People love themselves, so it only makes sense for them to love Tortilla Coast.

Tortilla Coast has two main areas: the bar and the dining room. Most Hill People are too poor to spend their money on an actual meal (Their Parents' Money can only go so far), so they choose to gorge on the free chips and salsa while drinking the famous two-flavored margarita. The few Hill People who decide to spring for the table in the dining room usually order a chicken quesadilla to share with 12 people, while they order beer after beer and endless refills of chips and salsa. The servers who work long hours in cheap blue polo shirts are forced to wait on the typical Hill People who spend little, tip less, and have annoying conversations about how important they are.

It's a scientific fact that Hill People like being around other Hill People. This way, when they complain about "constits" or slutty interns, they'll be met with sympathy and understanding, instead of the soul-crushing mockery they so deserve. In addition, Hill People have been known to use Tortilla Coast as a backdrop for their unfortunate and awkward mating rituals. When young, depressed Hill People are well on their way to yet another episode of, "what the hell happened last night", they tend to convince themselves that the staff assistant they met earlier in the evening, who at 6 PM looked like Fergie mid-crystal meth binge, is actually somewhat attractive. This leads to yet another awkward hook-up, which ultimately forces the participants to ignore each other when passing in the halls of Rayburn.

As long as there is a steady supply of Hill People around to enjoy its tacky d├ęcor and wallow in unconscious self-pity, Tortilla Coast will remain a prosperous establishment and a reliable atmosphere to observe douchebags in their natural habitat.

TGIF mofos!