And there’s the consultant who wants to drink only in a dive bar but can’t do without local craft beer.
These conflicted residents who help form D.C.’s yuppie subculture are the main targets of the new satirical website Stuck in DC, the District’s less viral and more local version of the Onion. The politely irreverent website pokes fun at Washington’s (sometimes) New York inferiority complex, the media, local bureaucracy and the city’s new wave of big-rent spenders who fancy themselves dive-bar patrons.
“There wasn’t a subversive, contrarian ‘D.C.-is-not-all-it’s-cracked-up-to-be’ place,” said Bill Petrich, the site’s 27-year-old founder, who writes under the pseudonym Walter because he likes the name and wants some anonymity with each posting. “We’re a comedy site, but it’s important that we say things that are true.”
Petrich, a Minnesota transplant who works by day as a copywriter at a nonprofit, is a contributor for the Onion and says he long thought there was a void in this area for the satirical and silly. So in September, Petrich and a few friends launched the website with a slew of nonsensical, yet seemingly plausible lists.
Among the most popular? “Washington’s standing water, ranked by potability.” For the article, Petrich traveled to different water sources in the city, including the Mall and Senate reflecting pools and the Dupont Circle fountain, and took a photo of a glass of that water, then assessed its quality.
“Thanks to its majestic marble fountain, the water in the center of Dupont Circle is well circulated and relatively clear,” Petrich’s Walter wrote. “But I have to say, it tastes a bit tinny, perhaps because of all the coins in there. That said, the price is right, and I couldn’t discern any traces of urine.”
Stuck in DC also coined the term “thrive bar” in a post ranking the city’s best “popular, profitable bar patronized largely by upwardly mobile white millennials with disposable income who relish the establishment’s reputation as a ‘dive bar.'”
Stuck in DC typically publishes one or two stories a week. Articles garner anywhere from a few hundred views to the rare 10,000 views for an article that receives hype on social media.
The biggest marketing tool for the site has turned out to be the 1,000 “This is not New York” stickers the writers have posted around the city with “stuckindc.com” in small print. The stickers have attracted Instagram postings and tweets, and Petrich says the reactions get to the ethos of the site and its audience.
Some people, according to Petrich, simply think, “Yes, D.C. is not as good as New York.” Others are angry that someone would even try to compare the two and recommend the naysayers pack up and move to New York. Others get the prodding joke.
“There are generally thousands of upwardly mobile white millennials here,” Petrich said. “They need to be made fun of.”
Petrich lives in a group house with five other men in Woodley Park and says he’s aware that he is a part of the demographic his website satirizes (although he says he mostly stays home and gardens and is not big into the “thrive bar” scene). He isn’t technically that H Street gentrifier his website lampoons, but he concedes he’ll only be writing Stuck in DC until he moves out of the city someday.
Until then, nothing in the District is off-limits. Except maybe the presidential election.
“I don’t think anyone is looking to Stuck in DC for the latest Trump piece,” he said.