Thursday, July 16, 2009

on bethesda, part one

Woodmont Avenue
People watch a jazz combo play outside the Haagen-Dazs on Bethesda's Woodmont Avenue.

I'm not sure if I should be upset or indifferent to the fact that Bethesda magazine considers the rest of Montgomery County to be a "suburb" of Bethesda. Even the cover of its current issue, titled "Is this the Best Place In The Country to Live?", puts it at the center of the world, with Gaithersburg and Rockville hovering around it like little satellites. And, not unlike its "67 Things We Love About Bethesda" list, the magazine once again claims places like Ellsworth Drive in Downtown Silver Spring as what's so great about Bethesda.

(I guess I'm flattered by that. Some might say that Bethesda has better restaurants than Silver Spring, but I would say that the best restaurants are really in Wheaton, whose existence Bethesda Magazine doesn't really acknowledge.)

Either way, the story concludes that Bethesda really is awesome because very wealthy people live there, and wealthy people demand a higher quality of services than the rest of us. Money talks, after all. These aren't word-for-word quotes, but I felt a little of a sting reading them. At least, I think I should have.

It just seems like a waste of time to try and compare Montgomery and Fairfax counties (as the one article available online does). The Maryland-Virginia rivalry is as old as time, but it's kind of silly to spend as many pages as they do on, especially when the moral of the story boils down to Bethesda is "urban" and "liberal" and Fairfax is "mostly sprawl" and "conservative." I mean, that's as much news as it isn't news. (The article completely sidesteps the real comparison in my mind - Bethesda versus Arlington, which is so citified and progressive that its accompanying rap should put all of us in MoCo to shame.)

Would a lifestyle magazine called Montgomery County sell as well? Would people lay copies of it on their coffee table, the front covers bearing photos of strip malls on Rockville Pike and dilapidated classrooms at Paint Branch High School? Probably not. But I prefer acknowledging that, like the stereotype that Montgomery County is uniformly affluent, that there's more to the place than Bethesda.


Sligo said...

Things that are great about living in Bethesda:

- Bethesda Bagels
- Dolcezza
- Infinite restaurant choices. Wheaton has some good restaurants, but Bethesda has dozens.
- The Capital Crescent Trail (paved).

I'd trade anything in Silver Spring for the first two.

Dan Reed said...

You'd sell Silver Spring for a pretentious, overpriced gelateria? Harsh.

Sligo said...

I didn't say "everything", I said "anything".