News item: Guy buys private parking space in Georgetown for $27,000. Pronounces himself delighted to get it for such a good price.
In one way, you can't blame this free-spending fellow. Street parking in Georgetown has become an oxymoron. It can't be done any more.
Fifteen years ago, you at least had a shot. Maybe you had to go around the block for 20 minutes. But sooner or later, you'd see someone walking down a tree-lined side street with a set of keys in his hand. You'd follow, and sure enough, you'd soon be safely (and legally) tucked into the curb. And even if you decided to park where the signs said you shouldn't, you probably wouldn't get a ticket.
The enforcement folks from the D.C. Department of Transportation have changed all that. Nowhere is illegal parking more vigorously penalized than in Georgetown. One guy I know parked in a Georgetown alley for one minute and 35 seconds, by his Swiss watch, to run an errand. When he came back, he discovered that the errand had just cost him $25.
Of course, the squeeze wouldn't be so tight if there were a Metrorail stop at Wisconsin and M. But the wise burghers of Georgetown decided that this would congest their beloved waterside village. So the Blue and Orange Lines skip merrily from Foggy Bottom to Rosslyn, bypassing Georgetown. And the congestion in that waterside village is worse than ever.
So maybe the guy who dropped 27 grand to park is no fool. At least he won't have to park in Foxhall or Foggy Bottom and spend 25 minutes hoofing it home.
But I wonder how he's planning to get to his gilt-edged parking space. The fact that he spent $27,000 for a space won't make the gridlock on Wisconsin any less griddy.
News item: WAVA management upset (again) with morning shock jocks Don Geronimo and Mike O'Meara. Every Wednesday, Don and Mike make fun of the less-than-beautiful brides pictured on The Washington Post's wedding announcement page. Station fielding several complaints.
The best definition of humor I ever heard came from the lips of my college English professor. He said: "Good humor invites you in."
What he meant was that good humor invites everyone in. But to heap snickers on the picture of a bride is to invite only certain people in -- chiefly those who like to laugh at the expense of others.
This sounds like the sort of humor we used to swap in the boys' bathroom in the fifth grade. It's right up there (or do I mean down there?) with underwear gags, bathroom jokes and hugely entertaining yarns about pimples.
Most of us leave behind fifth-grade humor when we leave behind fifth grade. Guess Don and Mike haven't graduated yet.
News item: Study says speed limits can safely be raised to 65 on most of the rural portions of Maryland's interstate highways.
Now that's funny!
What did this study study? Mostly I-70, between Frederick and Hancock.
If you look at a map, you discover that Frederick is not a large city. Neither is Hagerstown, 25 miles northwest. Even less so is Hancock, 40 miles further on. So it might seem logical that an interstate highway linking Smallville with Mediumville and Teenyville wouldn't be congested.
Ho, ho, ho.
I-70 is the major connector between the Washington-Baltimore metropolitan area (population 5 million-plus) and the west. If you drive this stretch of I-70, you almost never see a break in the traffic, regardless of day, regardless of hour. So, if you never see a break in the traffic, you've got the best reason on earth to hold the speed limit to a safe, sane, sensible 55.
As I've noted before, you'll gain only 10 minutes if you go 65 miles an hour for 60 miles, as opposed to 55. It ain't worth it, folks, and it's amazing that a serious study would suggest that it is.
News item: Consumer spending rises 1.5 percent in August. New car sales lead the way.
There we go again, we journalists. Getting suckered by figures -- especially by figures that are easy to see through.
Fine, great, more people bought cars in August than in July. Want to know why they did it? Because the dealerships were again offering their 1.9 percent bonanzas. So people said, "Hey, if these yo-yos want to give these cars away, I'll be glad to take one off their hands."
Does this mean that more people will buy cars in September than bought them in August? It means exactly the opposite. The buyers have all bought. One Bethesda dealer told me that he probably saw 12 months worth of customers in one month -- and that month was August. Yet we scribes report one-month economic figures as if they are signs of a long-lasting trend.
There is exactly one way that consumer spending will go up and keep going up: If something is done about the deficit. Otherwise, dealers will give away cars every August -- and sales figures will continue to mean next to nothing.