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photos by Lara Shipley

A Rainy Night in Hipster Disneyland

September 5th, 2006 · 1 Comment

First, an apology to Megan McCardle’s sister: I did not mean to imperil your hubcaps. For my indirect role in their fate, I am sorry.

When blogospheric eminence brunette Jane Galt—”Megan” in what passes for the real world these days—came to town last Friday, I thought it would be as good an excuse as any to round up a few folk to take a gander at Palace of Wonders, one of the new “Atlas District” bars that have recently sprung up around H Street Northeast. It’s got a carnival freakshow/curio museum motif, and if it weren’t such a pain in the ass to get to, I’d probably make it a regular haunt.

And yet, something about the whole business makes me vaguely apprehensive. Atlas, as DCites will already know, is the brainchild of alcopreneur Joe Englert, who has apparently taken advantage of a District plan to district pour money into revitalizing the neighborhood by flooding the street with bars and boutiques, presumably with the intention of creating enough of a proto-scene that complimentary businesses (and perhaps residences) will come careening in as the city spiffs the neighborhood up, appending a series of shapely zeroes to the values of his once-cheap properties. If all the bars are as good as PoW, it may work, but I can’t help but be a bit wary when they’re running full page ads in the City Paper proclaiming H Street “DC’s only bohemian neighborhood!” Something about it is faintly redolent of those beatnik kits they used to sell in the 60s. (Speaking of which: I recently noticed that the market for faux-vintage ironic T-shirts has expanded from Urban Outfitters to Target.) One eye was always glancing about for the animatronic Julian Casablancas passed out in an alley.

And yet, there are the hubcaps—Megan had borrowed her sister’s car to join us, and two of the tires, on opposite sides, were distinctly bare, despite the weather. Perhaps Joe Englert is at this moment gazing at the newest pair of trophies mounted above his mahogany desk, rubbing his hands together, and exclaiming: “Authenticity, sweet authenticity!”

Tags: Washington, DC



1 response so far ↓

  • 1 joanne // Sep 8, 2006 at 11:48 am

    Atlas District?!?!? wow, what a difference two years makes — 2003-04, i was renting a huge apartment on 7th and F for easily half what the same space would go for in the NW equivalency. It was a lovely neighborhood (despite the shudder I’d get sometimes walking back from my car late at night,) but it it was a drag with no nearby metro.

    Capitol East Apartments is a likely cofactor in this. They had about four buildings in the H-street vicinity (typical rate: $550 studio, $750 one-bedroom.) nice old-as-hell,-likely-lead paint-but-who-cares-there-are-bay-windows-and-
    walk-in-closets spaces.