Paper, Cut

For 41 years, Washington City Paper has been one of America’s essential alt-weekly publications and a launchpad for some of the finest journalists of their generation, including Ta-Nehisi Coates, Katherine Boo, Jason Cherkis, and David Carr (RIP). This week it publishes its last-ever print edition — don’t worry, it will continue to run online — and to honor/mourn the occasion, it invited alumni to reflect on what the print paper meant to them:

One day we were having an argument about the group A Tribe Called Quest, which is seminal to both of us. I’m from Queens and I used to see Q-Tip at the bus stop. I loved Tribe. We were arguing about whether or not they should break up. I think this was around the time their fourth album came out.

There were all these rumors and we were arguing about, ‘Is Tribe dead? Is it over? Are they gonna still be good?’ And someone came over to the desk and heard us arguing so vehemently and was like, why don’t you guys just write that for an arts feature? And we did!

Who knows what it meant to anybody, but what it meant to me was that the stuff that I cared about, which was pretty narrow when I was in my early 20s, had a place in the real world, in the bigger world, that this newspaper that to me was a big deal had sanctioned me talking shit about one of my favorite bands. And it made it feel like it was relevant, and it wasn’t just in my head — that it actually belonged in the world somehow.


Published: May 5, 2022
Length: 49 minutes (12,400 words)

Club Dread

A look at the feuds, money, and violence behind Ibiza, D.C.’s ill-fated and notorious megaclub.

Published: Aug 31, 2015
Length: 19 minutes (4,884 words)

Haven Is For Real

How D.C. churches helped Central American refugees fleeing political violence in the ’80s.

Published: Sep 19, 2014
Length: 19 minutes (4,906 words)

My So-Called Stalker (1999)

(Via David Carr’s Reddit Q&A) A woman recounts what it was like to be stalked by one man for years—and how police ignored her plea for help:

“Ron left frequent answering-machine messages that had no real pattern. Sometimes they were weird, nonsensical treatises, accusatory and rambling, definitely creepy, but not exactly life-threatening. Certainly not enough for the authorities to care–and not enough to motivate me to file a report.

“Then he started showing up at the store and lurking on the sales floor, peering at me. It was a busy place, and he often got by without anyone’s seeing him. I felt him even when he wasn’t there.

“One day, I was stocking shelves and sensed someone standing behind me. Minutes went by, and I realized the same person was still standing over my shoulder. I scooted to the right a bit, thinking perhaps he was trying to look at the shelf I was blocking. I heard the rustle of his pants as he shifted with me. Oh my god oh my god, I thought frantically, Oh my god it’s Ron. It has to be. He’s right fucking behind me! The breath left me, and I stared straight ahead at the shelves, immobilized by something I couldn’t explain. In that split second, I finally understood that my life would never be the same.”

Author: Anonymous
Published: Jan 15, 1999
Length: 52 minutes (13,094 words)

Diane Ravitch, the Anti-Rhee

In the month of April, Diane Ravitch, the 72-year-old preeminent historian of American education, sent 1,747 tweets, an average of about 58 messages per day, many between the hours of 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. On May 20 alone, Ravitch tweeted 99 times to her 13,000 followers. Linking to the news of a D.C. Public Schools investigation into test tampering under former chancellor Michelle Rhee, she asked: “How can teachers be evaluated by student test scores, when the scores are so often manipulated and inaccurate?”

Published: Jun 22, 2011
Length: 15 minutes (3,901 words)