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John Kelly's Washington Live

Free-for-all Discussion

John Kelly
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 24, 2004; 1:00 PM

John Kelly writes five times a week about the joys and annoyances of living in Washington. He aims to show readers the Washington (and Silver Spring, Alexandria, Manassas, Bowie ...) that they know and take them places they don't know. He wants to make them see familiar things in unfamiliar ways and unfamiliar things in familiar ways. ("We may occasionally end up seeing unfamiliar things in unfamiliar ways," John says, "but such are the risks of the job.") His columns take a cockeyed view of the place the rest of the planet knows as the Capital of the Free World but that we all call home. John rides the Metro for fun and once kidnapped an Irishman to see what made him tick.

Fridays at 1 p.m. ET John's online to chat about his columns and mull over anything that's on your mind. This week's columns:
Odes to the Underground, (Post, Sept. 23)
Help for Bears in Disrepair, (Post, Sept. 22)
In One Door and Not the Other, (Post, Sept. 21)
Answer Man: Boy ISO Government Girl, (Post, Sept. 20)

Post columnist John Kelly (The Washington Post)


Wednesday's Sessions
World: Greece's second bailout, 11 ET
Food: Free Range on Food, 12 ET
Entertainment: Reliable Source Live, 12 ET
Style: 30 Lessons for Living, 12 ET
Weekly Schedule

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Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.

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John Kelly: I have a confession to make. When I left the office yesterday I was feeling kind of bad. I knew that my column today was going to be the second part of a two-parter that pretty much bashed Metro. Sure, it was in the form of poetry, but somehow that made it a little worse. Poor Metro, I thought. Maybe I was being a bully.

Then I got to Farragut North after just missing a train and saw that there was a 30-minute delay. It was going to be 18 minutes until the next train. Then I didn't feel so bad anymore. And when I saw the front page story today saying that Metro is plagued with problems, I felt great! I looked--what's that word?--prescient. We can even "talk baseball," but I should first warn you that it's My Lovely Wife who keeps the scorecard in our family.

Now we're not only going to beat up on Metro today, but I will post some other Metro poems that I didn't have room for in the paper. Feel free to comment about anything that's on your mind.

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Silver Spring, Md.: John,
Maybe something weird is going on in Rock Creek park. In my drive in today on Beach drive I saw 4 dead raccoons and 2 dead deer on the side of or in the road. I can not imagine that all were hit by cars, though it is possible. Are they using some new chemical or trying a new process? Is this possibly a new form of terroism? Have you heard anything?

John Kelly: Sounds like a job for Mulder and Scully. No, I haven't heard of anything. Maybe it's just some seasonal die-off. Anyone else out there knowledgeable in the ways of dead animals?

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Fairfax, Va.: Are there any parks in this area that you would recommend for not too strenuous hiking? My boyfriend and I want to hike tomorrow, we've already been to Great Falls...any suggestions? Thanks.

John Kelly: How about the Billy Goat Trail. Just kidding! It's pretty strenuous. Lots of ups and downs and slithering across cliff faces. You should do it eventually, though. You could just amble along the C&O Canal: flat, scenic. What do others recommend?

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John Kelly: Wherever you go, let us know if you see many dead deer or raccoons.

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Arlington, Va.: I cannot shed one tear for any vandalism committed against that horrid panda "art." So some terribly creative person envisioned a panda with pink and yellow polka dots in a bow tie. To me, a Panda with pink and yellow polka dots in a bow tie and missing an ear is just as creative. I had always hoped that a sufficiently talented curmudgeon might sneak around at night and paint all those statues so that they actually looked like pandas.

These multichrome eyesores were an invitation to vandalism from the moment they were bolted on the streets. It's about time they were set free.

washingtonpost.com: Help for Bears in Disrepair

John Kelly: So if you, M. Arlington, Va., find something unappealing or inartistic you think it's okay to destroy it? If I acted on that impulse I'd be in jail for all the times I took a Louisville Slugger to a display of Hummel figurines or Thomas Kincaidpainteroflight canvases.

Yes, a lot of those pandas were schlocky. But some people like schlock. And a lot of the pandas were cool, clever, appealing. Some were even edgy. Howard Connelly, the sculptor who repaired the damaged pandas, did one called "Rusty." It was a panda enclosed in a cage of re-bar that slowly rusted. The thing bordered on an eyesore (there were several complaints about it) but it was a nice counterpoint to the cutesier ones. Look, this is public art, it raises money for a good cause, and if it really offends you you can just look away.

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Washington DC: First a vent -- what was the president thinking this morning -- a motorcade that shuts down the Memorial Bridge at 8 a.m.? Many, many unhappy Virginia commuters this morning.

And then, two thank yous -- first, a thank you for writing about Friendship Airport. I was less than 10 when the name was changed but I still remember my mom driving the family out to Friendship to drop off or pick up my dad. I still periodically refer to it by that name. Of course no one knows what I am talking about.

Second, thanks for writing about the panda (sculpture) hospital. I was there a week or so ago and its just heartbreaking to see the damage. I know, I really do need to stop personifying inanimate objects! Anyway, have a great weekend!

John Kelly: Wonder why he didn't just take a helicopter. Kerry should jump on this issue.

And here's someone who liked the pandas. There's room for both types in this world.

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Suburban Maryland: Gov. Ehrlich's defense of using tax funds to feature himself in numerous ads by citing other governors who also made ads (though he seems to be in more ads, and with more time devoted to him in sitcom-type situations rather than on substance) just shows he's no different than other politicians. Whether or not the ads are political, they are primarily ego-strokers, and certainly not cost-effective. If I see a tourism ad from another state, the fact that that state's governor appears means nothing at all to me in persuading me to vacation there. It's just pro forma (the governor appearing because he's governor). Ehrlich appearing in ads showing him helping homeowners with their chores so that they can take a day off to tour in Maryland is just plain dumb. It won't pay off in increased tourism revenue. To Gov. Ehrlich and others making such ads: you're using MY money (in tax revenues). If you enjoy making the ads, use YOUR money. Saying all the other kids do it is no excuse.

washingtonpost.com: Democrats Not Buying Ehrlich Ads
Md.'s Close-Up Looks Like Ehrlich's

John Kelly: I've got to agree with you. I haven't seen any of those ads, but the descriptions and the still photos did make them sound pretty unappealing. I would be frightened if a stiff guy sporting a "I Dream of Jeannie"-era-Larry-Hagman haircut came into my house and offered to unclog the toilet.

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John Kelly: I promised to post some of the other Metro poems I received. Here's an evocative one from Michael Galkovsky:

Labor day came and gone.
Orange line smells like wet carpet.
Thoughts unorganized in underground commute.

Man behind me sitting, not looking well.
Woman offers him a stick of gum, kind stranger?
Another stretches arm with water bottle, all people kind?
Man wretched over the seat, filling plastic bag with his breakfast.
Wet carpet smell, I miss thee.

Report all suspicious behavior, sign reads.
No food on metro, another loudly yells.
What of barfing? How legal is such behavior?
Have terrorists already won?
Should I raise the alert level to Red?

Have I missed my stop, oh no, still 4 to go.
Is his bag half full or empty?

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Washington, D.C.: Regarding your Tuesday column, would you take a look at the doors of the new Subway restaurant at Farragut Square (17th between I and K, next to the blasted Orioles store)? There are two sets of doors. If you're trying to exit, you push on the first door. Then you have to pull on the second door. I'll never understand having exterior doors open in (fire hazard?), but having two doors that open opposite ways is just too confusing. Likely to bang someone coming the opposite way right in the head.

washingtonpost.com: In One Door and Not the Other

John Kelly: Boy, that's a diabolical arrangement, guaranteed to cause an embolism. And that Subway isn't too far from a Wendy's that a reader says has "PUSH" written on both sides of the same door! I think sometimes these guys are just messin' with us.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey, was looking around for the Pandas after your column on them, can't find any. Do you know where they ended up?

John Kelly: I'd look in the back yard of a certain person in Arlington, Va. There, in a shallow grave, you may find 150 partially clothed panda bodies.

Actually, most of them have been moved to the quad at American University, where they'll stay until they're auctioned off in October. Some may still be in that little shopping center at 2000 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. That's where the panda "hospital" is.

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Washington, D.C.: In light of last week's online discussion regarding a name for the (hopefully) new Washington baseball stadium, how about a contest to rename the Expos? I am not a big fan of some of the names circulating around, such as "Nationals" and the names they threw around a few years ago during such deliberations, such as "Gray Sox," and the "Monuments."

John Kelly: I don't know how much good contests actually do. I don't think it would hold much sway with the people who will actually name the team. I've always been partial to the "Washington Monuments" because it's kind of catchy. It works well in headlines ("Monumental Win Sends DC to World Series!" but also "Monumental Errors Cost Team Game"). Also, I would make the players wear caps that were slightly pyramidal, with a tiny aluminum tip at the top. And maybe the uniforms could be gray, with vertial and horizontal mortar lines.

One problem with Monuments is that it doesn't lend itself to abbreviating. Washington "Mons" is dangerous. Could do "the 'Ments." Sounds refreshing.

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Panda Question: I tore the ear off of a real panda. Am I in trouble?

John Kelly: Yes, but if you fried it up and ate it you probably don't need Levitra or Viagra or Cialis.

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John Kelly: That message was in no way meant to imply that panda parts are an aphrodisiac and does not condone the poaching of pandas, either partially or in toto.

(I will say that I think "Cialis" is a bad name for that sort of drug. It's pronounced "See Alice" and whenever I hear it I think of Alice the maid from "The Brady Bunch." Sort of has the opposite effect...)

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60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Go to the LL Bean store in Tysons and get the D.C. version of the book "60 Hikes within 60 Miles" for a list of great places to hike in the area. It's probably also available at other book stores.

John Kelly: Thank you. And if you really want a workout, HIKE to Tysons to buy it.

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Bethesda, Md.: Do you find it at all ironic that the Capitol of the Free World denies its own residents a voting representative in our legislature? We're the only democracy that does that. Do you think there is any chance this issue will be raised in the debates? I'd love to see Mr. Bush (who tore the vanity plate off his limo as his first act in office) explain why he wants democracy for Iraq but not for the residents of Washington, D.C.

John Kelly: "Ironic" is one word for it. "Pathetic" is another. I'm sure if Bush is asked about it in the debates he'll simply fix Jim Lehrer with a steely gaze and say, "Well, that's just the way our Foundling Fatherers wanted it." End of discussion.

The problem is most other Americans a) don't know about DC's plight, and b) probably wouldn't care if they did know. Once, when I had a DC drivers license, I was carded at a New York bar. "District of Columbia?" the doorman said. "What state is that in?" I thought he wasn't gonna let me in.

I don't see what's wrong with retroceding Washington back to Maryland, actually.

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John Kelly: Another Metro poem, from Vienna's Deborah Smith and titled "The Mold":

Always on a day that's dreary, riding Metro, frazzled, weary
I will suddenly be conscious of the odor from the floor
As I breathe in, there comes seeping, drafts of air completely reeking
As of mold discretely creeping, creeping down upon the floor
"'Tis the carpeting," I mutter "trapping mold upon the floor"
Would it help to clean it more?

Now I think perhaps a dust mask, scented wintergreen or damask
Might block the noxious smell or make it easy to be borne
Although my fellow riders' fear when they see prophylactic gear
Is a result most likely clear, clear enough that I am torn
"Do not start a panic," I sigh, leaving mask in bag unworn
I just sniff and feel forlorn.

I'd recommend a non-skid sheathing that's amenable to cleaning
To replace the moldy wool placed underfoot from door to door
Even terrorists can't top this dread of airborne stachybotris
My sinuses will rot thus, thus the Metro I abhor
Changing cars is not the answer, since the whole train holds the spore
Why won't Metro clean it more!?

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Places to hike in No. Va.: Lake Accotink Park in Burke has a lovely four-mile trail around it -- you don't have to go all the way, and it's not hideously strenuous. Burke Lake, I believe, also has a trail, but I don't know how long.
There's also the W & OD trail, which has some nice parts to it...

washingtonpost.com: Here's a trail map of the W&OD and Fairfax County's site on Burke Lake and Lake Accontik.

John Kelly: Good suggestions all. Thanks.

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Alexandria, Va.: I just have to chime in on the whole hate the cable company debate. Over a year ago, I had such a bad run with a person there, I was so mad I was shaking. I called back and demanded to speak with her supervisor(had her name). Never heard back. So I wrote a lovely dissertation, that included the name of the EVIL person and EVIL person's EVIL supervisoras well as the FABOULUS people there who were amazing in helping me figure out the problem. Result: Lovely letter and phone call back apologizing for the behavoir of said EVILS and said EVILS were discplined.

Also, recently upgraded my service and in the mail the other day: $20 gift card for Mobil Gas. So yeah -- they drive me nuts, I wish we had more options, but there are example of two good things.

John Kelly: Cable does seem to be getting a little better. Gradually, painfully, they're improving. I don't know whether they're really spooked by satellite or not. But the thing you described--the baseline assumption that all the customers are chumps and criminals--is the thing that the cable overlords need to stamp out completely before I actually praise them.

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Cialis, Wash.: On the Brady Bunch once, Alice said she was going to Seattle and one of the kids said, "Who's Attle?"

John Kelly: Isn't "Go See Alice" a Jefferson Airplane song?

There also was a torturous "I Love Lucy" episode involving a foreigner who couldn't speak English who was looking for "Sam Francisco." Lucy bundled him onto a train to the West Coast, and then Mr. Francisco showed up at her door. She had some 'splaining to do.

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Baseball, D.C.: Last week in this space you were wondering why they weren't taking season ticket deposits yet... I think the reason is because we don't know who "they" are yet. It would be awfully presumptive if either the D.C. or Va. group started collecting money, especially, when MLB may still own the team if and when it comes here, at least at first.

John Kelly: Some neutral party could take deposits in a sort of escrow account, then direct it to whomever should receive it when the time came. But that's one thing that's different this time around. The focus has been more on building the ballpark than making sure the ballpark is filled. Before there were concerns that DC fans just wouldn't go out to see a team. Is that still a worry?

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Chinatown, L.A.: Dear Mr. Kelly,
You are confusing panda ears with Tiger Penis Soup. Panda ears are for smoker's cough and for those who have lost the ability to hear bamboo shootings. Next thing we know, you'll be confusing the healing powers of Rhino horn with the fingernails of Chinese Monkeys!

John Kelly: I just think it's sad that I have to get all my rhino horn from Canada, since the U.S. doesn't have a good prescription drug coverage card.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Some not-too-tough hikes -- Greenbelt Park, The National Wildlife Visitor Center (Laurel), the Northwest Branch Trail (Silver Spring), Roosevelt Island (Arlington), Seneca Creek State Park (Gaithersburg), Scotts Run Nature Preserve (McLean).

My favorite "local" hike is Catoctin Mountain in Thurmont, but it has some very steep sections. You can also find a lot of ideas at www.trails.com.

John Kelly: I really recommend the National Wildlife Visitors Center. The trails are all pretty short--none more than 2 miles, if memory serves--and they're loops. They even used to have a little tram/bus thing that you could take through the forest.

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Tampa, Fla., formerly Silver Spring, Md. (Four Corners): John, A question/point to ponder for you & fellow chatters:

If I put Heinz catsup on my Hamburger or Hot Dawg, or Heinz 57 on my T-Bone, would I have to report that as contributing to the Kerry 4 President campaign? On the same token, if I drink Bush beer, while at Bush Gardens, would I have to also report that as well? And what if, I have a hamburger, with Heinz Catsup, at Bush gardens, while i'm drinking a Bush beer. Then what?

P.S. I really enjoy your postings daily in the Post, as well as weekly chats...keep up the good work.

John Kelly: I think the FEC would allow all of these various permutations. The only problem would come if you were driving a Corvair.

Speaking of which, my friend Suzanne saw a beautifully restored Corvair on Rockville Pike the other day. Its license plate? "NADER."

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Arlington, Va.: Thank you, thank you, thank you for investigating the "closed door" policy of so many small, local retailers. It has always been a mystery to me why this annoying, customer-unfriendly practice is so pervasive. About half the time I ask why the one door is closed, I'm told it is because the other door is "broken." Well, how often do doors break, really? I hardly ever hear about doors breaking in other locations -- it's as if there were some sort of weird durability problem just for double-door situations.

My question is: why do stores design themselves to have the double-doors if they don't like to use them? Do you think there's anything we, the public can do to try to get these things opened more often?

John Kelly: I would just say something to the employees/manager. Tell them it's a pain to have to guess which one is unlocked, or to wait to enter while another customer exits. Tell them if they're sales are $10,000 a day with one door unlocked, it will be $20,000 with TWO doors unlocked.

One reader e-mailed to say that she's in a wheelchair and barely fits through a 32-inch door, the minimum width allowed. Usually the other door has to be unlocked for her. And often after she's in the store the manager RELOCKS it! She wonders if he thinks her wheelchair is going to shrink while she's shopping.

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Washington, D.C.: It was "Sam Francesca."

John Kelly: I most humbly apologize.

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Queens: The song by Jefferson Airplane is "White Rabbit" and the refrain is "go ask Alice."

You're welcome.

John Kelly: Thank you. Now, can you tell us whether you've been seeing a lot of dead deer or raccoons in Queens, cause that would cause me to freak out a little bit.

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West Coast: Have the citizens of D.C. ever considered faking a full-blown conversion to "family values" and "state's rights"? If for one election the voters all went Republican, wouldn't D.C. get it's voting rights?

John Kelly: That's why I think retroceding to Maryland makes sense. It wouldn't really change the balance of power that much in the generally Democratic state. Doug Duncan should push for it.

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Local hiking trails: Try Riverbend Park just north of Great Falls. Also, if you're willing to drive a bit, Sky Meadows State Park in Paris, Va., has some great hiking and beautiful views. It's about an hour from D.C.

John Kelly: Some more good ideas.

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The Lorax: I AM THE LORAX
I SPEAK FOR THE TREES.
Actually, they're kinda quiet today.

John Kelly: You know what they're thinking though, don't you? If a human falls in the city, and there are no trees there to hear it, does it make a sound?

Deeeeeep.

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John Kelly: I kind of liked this Metro poem by Mary Coelho of Centreville:

This train is out of service, out of service, out of service.
This train is out of service, out of service, out of service.
Bing Bong - Stand Clear - Doors Closing!

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For Bethesda: Washington, D.C., is not the capitOl of the free world -- it is the capitAl of the free world. The CapitOl is the big, white building with the dome on top. A few years ago I called an insurance company headquartered somewhere in the midwest and asked if they wrote policies in the District of Columbia. The woman responded, "Oh, no, we don't write policies in Canada at all."

John Kelly: Now, now, we all make mistakes. A reader wrote me to say Style had a mention of mythical coffee farmer Juan Valdez of "Columbia." While in high school I once wrote a profile of an exchange student from the country of "Chili."

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Bethesda, Md.: Mr. Kelly-

Love the column. Being a much younger reader (23), I've enjoyed it much more than Bob's, but that's probably just a function of my age and the freshness of it.

But I have a dilemma. I've tried to get my wife to read the column, but she refuses, saying Bob Levey turned her off to it. She had lots of issues with his column (felt it was too preachy, old, etc., etc.). Once again, I think age was a definite consideration there. I've tried to tell her how different, great, funny, your column is, but it just won't stick.

Any ideas?

John Kelly: You know, divorce might be the only option. Or at least a trial separation, some marriage counseling, that sort of thing.

Hmmm. I really want her to read the column. Tell me what she's interested in. Send me a list, or post it here, of her hobbies, pet peeves, big issues, etc. I'll try to weave some or all of them into a column. That's the one to put in front of her at the breakfast table. If that doesn't work: divorce.

Anyone else have any ideas?

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Silver Spring, Md.: I had a doctor appointment at GW at 9 a.m. one day this week. Usually I take the Metro to Farragaut North and walk the rest of the way. This time, because the Red Line has been so unreliable, I drove. So, of course, an accident on Military Road had 16th Street backed up all the way to Silver Spring.

Oh well. I did make it on time, by about 2 minutes.

John Kelly: ...and then you had to wait 45 minutes for your doctor I'll bet.

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Fairfax, Va.: I have a different problem with stores' double doors, and perhaps your discoveries explain it. If I am coming or going from a building that has double doors, I will open and use the one on the right -- just like we drive on the right side of the road here in the U.S. I find if there is someone else (or several someone elses . . .) coming the opposite direction, they will stand and WAIT for me to come through before using the same door themselves. They don't even TRY the other door. HELLO! There are two doors for a reason. No lines, no waiting. People are stupid.

John Kelly: There is that. It's like we've just given up as a nation, succumbed to the one-door mania that retailers are peddling, drank their single-door KoolAid.

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Retrocessi, ON: Yes! Then the next Maryland gubernatorial race will feature a steel-age, death-match primary between Doug Duncan and Marion Barry! Who do I bribe to make this happen faster?

John Kelly: Me. But "bribe" is such an unseemly word. I'm setting up a journalism foundation that is accepting charitable donations.

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Panda Statues: I love the public art, attractive or not. It just makes the city more interesting. However, as a volunteer at the National Zoo, I think that there has been too much attention paid to the pandas. What about the Golden Lion Tamarins? They're an endangered monkey from Brazil that the Zoo has been instrumental in saving. Now _that_ would be great: 200 monkey statues throughout the city!!

John Kelly: That would be cool. But would they be life-size golden lion tamarins? Cause they're not very big. And they might lose something when blown up to gargantuan size, the way a newborn baby looks good in your arms but would just be scary strapped in the back of a Ford F-Series.

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Arlington, Va.: I e-mailed you last week praising your moving stories (heh-heh). We continue to have high hopes that someone will buy our house, and I look back at the columns of yours that I've clipped related to this, and it helps.

That written, please, please, please give me more reassurance! I need the good thoughts coming from all sides.

John Kelly: Of course it will sell. And to guarantee it, I and my fellow chatters will all beam good luck wishes to you. Ready everybody? NOW!

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Oh, Deer: I live in upper Montgomery County, and it's a rare day that I don't see an expired deer on the side of Route 124 or 27.

John Kelly: One of the consequences of too many deer. Or, if you're a deer, too many people.

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Silver Spring, Md.: No, the doctor was on time -- that's the advantage of going at 9.

John Kelly: But if you'd gotten there at 8:30 the doctor would have been running late.

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Roadkill, Va.: It's been a bad week in Fairfax, Va., as well. I saw at least 4 dead squirrels and 2 dead racoons this morning. (Normally no racoon roadkill anywhere along my routes.) Usually I see this in the summer, when the babies are out exploring (and encountering big metal behemoths for the first time). This -- I don't get it.

Maybe we're in for a cold winter and they are committing suicide rather than trying to store all the food they'll need???

John Kelly: Well now you've got me intrigued. I guess I'll have to throw the John Kelly's Washington investigative apparatus into high gear. Subpoena records. File Freedom of Information Act requests. Charter a float plane. Or I could call the people in charge of picking up dead animals from the side of the road.

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Fairfax, Va.: "Single-Door KoolAid" would be an excellent name for a rock band.

John Kelly: I got a million of 'em.

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Arlington, Va.: The Panda statue-hater checking in: an "edgy panda" is an oxymoron.

John Kelly: But also a good name for a rock band, no? "Opening tonight for Single-Door KoolAid: Edgy Panda!!!!"

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Retrocessi, ON: Hey! I said "steel-cage death-match primary." Put back the c and take out that comma right now!

washingtonpost.com: My trigger-edit-finger mistake. Consider them restored.

John Kelly: I wondered what a "steel-age death match" was. I thought maybe you meant "bronze-age" and they'd have to fight each other wearing deer skins.

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College Park, Md.: Ha! I saw a Metro train on the Beltway last night as I was driving from Silver Spring to College Park. It was, of course, broken down and on a truck with a police escort no less. It doesn't get any better than seeing the public transportation itself giving up and taking 495! (I have a picture to prove it!)

John Kelly: Can you e-mail it to me: kellyj@washpost.com.

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Washington D.C.: (I hate this form that pretends that D.C. is a state)
Dear Mr. Kelly,
I've been trying to find information on this but can't. Do you still maintain the list that Mr. Levey used to have of large items that people want to give away? If so, how does one get an item on it? Thanks.

John Kelly: Yes, and I'll probably be doing a column on it soon. In the meantime you can e-mail a description of the item you want to donate to: marmer.g@erols.com, and the indefatigable list monitor Gerri Marmer will add it.

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Silver Spring, Md. (Native Washingtonian): Recede into Maryland? Didn't Maryland and Virginia give land to form D.C.? How about receding into Virginia?

John Kelly: Well that river is in the way....

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NMAI Festival: OK, it's bad for my heart, but fry bread has to be the closest thing to manna I will ever taste.....

John Kelly: I was down on the Mall Wednesday taking in the festival. I saw the fry bread but didn't have any. I had a Dove Bar instead. That's Native American, isn't it?

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Gaithersburg, Md.: I've seen a lot of dead squirrels all over the place -- in Prince George's County, Northern Virginia and upper Montgomery County. Haven't noticed larger numbers of dead deer and/or raccoons, but there is an unusual number of dead squirrels around.

John Kelly: Hokay, now I'm getting scared.

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Haight Jefferson District of the Tenderloin: Speaking of Jefferson Airplane, now that their later model, Jefferson Starship, has been declared the grand winner of the worst song of the last 20 years, the lame and redundant "WE BUILT THIS CITY," why don't the citizens of D.C. use that song as their battle cry for representation, figuring that their demands will be met, so as to stop hearing that annoying tune?

John Kelly: That is a bad song (and video),though mildly catchy. I think there are plenty worse, though. VH1 isn't the most rigorous when it comes to those best-of/worst-of shows.

Still, I like you're thinking. "We built this city for...Tom DeLay!"

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Washington, D.C.: Billy goat trail: I fell and broke my elbow on that trail. I had to be taken out by boat.

John Kelly: Ouch! To that person who posted earlier: Don't do the Billy Goat Trail if you're looking for a light hike. Although getting taken out by a boat sounds kind of cool.

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Doveb, AR: Yes, it is. Running Bear loved little Dove Bar.

John Kelly: Good. I feel better.

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Silver Spring, Md.: The portion of D that was in Virginia was retroceded in the 19th Century. It's called Arlington.

John Kelly: Yes, which is why DC is no longer a diamond. It's more a diamond in the rough. An uncut gem that will soon see a baseball diamond growing in its midst. (I'm sorry. I got carried away.)

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retrocession: Can't come into Va. -- D.C. gave back the Arlington/Rosslyn section after the Civil War. Too many murders and ner do wells in that there part of town. That's why the diamond is missing a big chunk out of the bottom left.

John Kelly: See, confirmation.

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You saved my job: Thanks to your column and the article about Metro in today's post, my boss finally believes me when I tell her that I am late due to Metro delays!!

John Kelly: Glad to be of help. We should add that to The Post advertising campaign. (But how to get that punk wife to read? That's the real challenge.)

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Arlington, Va.: I've noticed a lot of dead pandas all over the city. They all seem to have died with silly grins on their face. As they reach rigor mortis, their bodies appear to have assumed various patterns of gaudy colors.

John Kelly: Look into your heart. Open it just a little. Let a little panda love in.

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Washington, D.:. Does not anyone notice the slow and deliberate attempt at WTOP to take over the complete radio dial? "WTOP, from left to right on your radio dial"... I think we need to employ the quickly dwindling army of squirrels to combat this takeover before they all commit hare kare.

John Kelly: Before you get jumped on by all the grammarians, that is "hari-kari," or, more correctly, "hara-kari" or "seppuku."

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Washington, D.C.: Re: "We Built This City"

That was "Starship," NOT "Jefferson Starship."

There IS a difference.

John Kelly: And vive la differnce say I.

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John Kelly: I also say "au revoir." There, I said it. Thanks for the witty repartee. I enjoyed it. Look for me in the normal place on Monday. And if you have any ideas or comments, contact me at kellyj@washpost.com. They don't all have to be about dead squirrels or ritual suicide.

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© 2004 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive
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