Representations of my city

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“Walking” the National Mall –thinking about Decoteau’s walk
My aunt visited town this past week and the Washingtonian was prominently displayed in her hotel room. In this 20th anniversary copy the Washington Monument is prominently featured. To outsiders, the monuments are the pinnacle of a Washington D.C. experience. It’s interesting to think about De Certeau’s work when thinking about the walk of the national mall because that walk done by millions of people every year is distinctly planned. It is a direct path to the capital building, the manifestation of power and democracy (other facets of D.C.’s reputation).

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What’s missing? Hint: The Anacostia waterfront

D.C. is known for the national mall. In certain maps, the only image of the city people get is like the one above. The map is completely missing a section of D.C.-the Anacostia waterfront. As much as it is important to think about what is represented it is also important to think about what is not and who is authoring the representations.




T.V. plays an important role in this representation of D.C. I think to West Wing, a show that displayed the inner working of the busy political professionals of D.C., including the one in the white house. Now we have shows like House of Cards, that show the darker edge to the political city

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Two words. Marion Barry.  D.C. is just as well known for scandal as it is for power. Especially in the media, D.C is known as a place of politicians with sex scandals, stalemates in congress and a mayor arrested with cocaine.  


D.C. is most known for it’s power. But the city is much more than just the President, Congress, and the tourists on the national mall. With my representation I want to get away from the city of fact as we know Washington d.c.–the monuments, the white house, and the powerful people that live here. And instead dive deeply into a subculture of punk rock that began in D.C. during the 1980s.

This movement provides a wealth of representations of feeling. Each lyric is filled with emotion, whether that be anger, joy, or frustration and every historical interpretation shows how the creative spark of these kids compounded into a culture of a do-it-yourself work ethic.  This movement defined a culture of young teens living in the city. These teens ran towards a city in decline, using church venues, abandoned buildings, whatever they could find to gather together to make and enjoy the music. These teens lived with a do-it-yourself (DIY) mentality and pushed back against consumerism. These teens fought for what they thought was right whether that be a protest against apartheid or a straight edge movement. And these teens mixed in with the “others” in the city (performing some concerts collaboratively with gogo groups). The D.C. punk scene offers an alternative to the power dynamic we normally see when confronted by representations of the Nation’s Capital. Instead, the D.C. punk scene offers a city of feeling, from the eyes of a young audience in a historically tumulous part of the city’s history.




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