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Land of subpoenas

The Morning File is a huge fan of civic slogans, particularly the classic, "I [Heart] New York"; Las Vegas' affecting homage to prostitution, "What happens here, stays here"; and our own dream for a more exciting commonwealth, "Pennsylvania: Less talk, more rock."

Stacy Innerst, Post-Gazette
Click illustration for larger image.

Now, Washington D.C. is looking for a new catchphrase, something more sexy than the current snoozers, "Celebrate and Discover" and "Washington D.C.: The American Experience." The Washington Post said the District wants a "new brand" -- to use the pretentious marketing term derived from the act of putting a hot iron on a steer's rump -- that will capture Washington's appeal, or failing that, its brand essence.

It's a daunting task. Washington has been the nation's capital and its crime capital, and sometimes there's some overlap. In 2000, another tourist-grabber appeared on license plates, reflecting Washington's plantation status: "Taxation Without Representation."

Civic boosters are running an online survey at through April, with the new slogan to be unveiled in the fall.

Some suggestions so far

Washington D.C.: We apologize

D.C.: Home of the Eastern Western White House

D.C. What happens here, stays here

D.C.: Step back!

D.C.: Where the citizens pack more heat than the Secret Service

D.C.: Oh right, like you could do any better

D.C.: School Trip Capital of the World!

D.C.: Please stay in the crowded, well-lit areas

D.C.: Texas may have the oil, but we have the dipsticks

Miscreants and Reprobates -- And that's just Congress!

D.C.: We'll give you the kilo to the city

D.C.: Like Iraq but with better food

See tomorrow's police state today

(From, and

Get on with it!

D.C. is part of a trend of states and cities rethinking their public image, says the Post. Baltimore spent 18 months and $500,000 on a campaign that resulted in a new logo (a sailboat) and a new tag line, "Get in on It," which sounds like an invitation to join a bank heist or a Ponzi scheme, but really is shorthand for "get in on a city that has a lot going for it," we are told

From the AP

But the granddaddy of them all? "Virginia Is for Lovers." Launched in 1969, it was developed by the geniuses at what is now the Martin Agency of Richmond, Va., the firm that created today's stupendous gecko and cave man ads for Geico insurance.

More help with branding

"Washington isn't a city, it's an abstraction."

-- Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, 1952

"Washington is a very easy city for you to forget where you came from and why you got there in the first place."

-- President Harry S. Truman

"Washington was not only an important capital. It was a city of fear. Below that glittering and delightful surface there is another story, that of underpaid government clerks, men and women holding desperately to work that some political pull may at any moment take from them. A city of men in office and clutching that office, and a city of struggle which the country never suspects."

-- Pittsburgh-born novelist Mary Roberts Rinehart, 1931

"Washington will ever be a city for extracurricular romance and undercover trysts, partly because of the high moral standards demanded of the politician by his constituency, and also because it is a town where women are more easily tolerated if they dabble with politicians rather than politics."

-- Barbara Howar, socialite

and author, 1973

"Washington is a city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm.

-- President John F.

Kennedy, 1962

"The formal Washington dinner party has all the spontaneity of a Japanese imperial funeral."

-- Simon Hoggart,

British journalist, 1990

You know you're in DC when ...

People just call the city "DC" or "the District."

The government closes schools because there is a 40 percent CHANCE of snow.

Everyone calls the 10 inches of snow three years ago "The great blizzard."

The weather man declares the weather is suddenly a cool 89 degrees with only 90 percent humidity and you are happy.

You watch the World/National News to find out what to do this weekend.

Nobody you know actually makes anything.

People talk in acronyms and they actually understand each other.

You stop someone to ask for directions, and 75 percent of the time they say, Oh sorry, we're just visiting, too.


Contact us at , 412-263-1112 or Portfolio, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.


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