Titled “Welcome Home to the Sh—hole of Annandale, VA,” the two-year-old video, viewed more than 1 million times, has new life thanks to a Reddit post. And its creator, Angelo Mike — that’s his real name — is facing alleged backlash from his landlord while the rest of us contemplate whether Annandale is, as the video claims, a “funnel for the dregs of society.”
“I think people identify with it,” Mike said in a telephone interview. “There’s a lightness to the video that’s obviously a parody of a tour of a city, and I try to keep a lightness to the stuff that’s ugly and awkward and unpleasant about Annandale.”
In this and other videos on his YouTube page, Mike takes aim at Annandale’s traffic and crime, fronting the thesis that the Northern Virginia community of about 41,000 is “awkwardly put together.”
“There’s nothing routine about Annandale,” according to the video’s voice-over. “… Every day, you may have to run across four lanes of traffic just to get to your car, and there’s multiple thefts every week within a three-block radius of Columbia Pike and Backlick Road.”
Such harsh words challenge an aging vision of Fairfax County as a suburban paradise — a tech enclave with good schools and good government, albeit one struggling with changes in population and unemployment in the wake of the Great Recession.
Some commenters on the Reddit post came to Annandale’s defense. One thought the video came “from the mind of an entitled suburban kid.” Another wrote: “Still beats Springfield.”
“Although like most places it has its list of things to improve, it’s definitely not as bad as the video,” one recent comment on the video’s YouTube page read. “It’s part of one of the richest counties in the country. You can definitely get much worse in the Washington DC area, even N.va.”
Mike, a 31-year-old Arlington native who does freelance videography and works security at a bar when not making viral videos, isn’t saying Annandale’s the worst.
“I don’t think anyone would be confused in thinking that this is literally worse than Flint, Michigan, or a crime-ridden part of Chicago or Detroit,” he said. “Or North Korea or whatever.”
Although Annandale is known as a Korean enclave, Mike, who is of Greek descent, stressed that his critique wasn’t race-based.
“I just think that’s unfair,” he said of some people’s tendency to stereotype “poor people of a certain color and ethnicity.” “It’s not a kind thing to do. It’s unfortunate people do it.”
Nor Mike does even spare his own home on Elan Court.
His critique, Mike said in a video called “Can I Crash on Your Couch?” posted on Wednesday, led to a confrontation with his landlord that, after two years, may force him to find new housing.
“I see things differently from her,” he said of his landlord. “There’s a little bit of an edge about her. ”
Carlos Prado, the property’s owner, said he wasn’t aware of any problems with the home, and that Mike is “complaining about everything in life.”
“I think this guy has more problems than some cleaning issues in the house between grown men,” Prado, who lives in Annandale, said. He added that Mike had “illegally” taped his roommates, and would likely have to move out “just because of the relationship he has with other tenants.”
Mike said he would love to find a one-bedroom condo. And perhaps a change of address is a good idea. If he hates Annandale, why not move on — even if it means abandoning his greatest subject matter?
“I’m making fun of myself, too, because I’m here,” he said.