As Chris pointed out, travelling from New York to DC by train is like a DVD box-set extravaganza. First you've got The Soprano's New Jersey, then The Wire's Baltimore, before you pull into DC, humming the theme tune to the West Wing. By bus it's the same deal, expect you feel like you're watching pirate DVDs. At the Baltimore bus stop (signified by a bleak looking pedestrian tunnel and a few knocked about trash cans) we saw an overweight police officer glowering down at young kid. Hopper, we figured, although I guess he could have been a boy scout out of uniform selling the cop some cookies.
Only an hour away,downtown Washington is a whole world of different. Here we saw uniformed scouts a plenty and cops everywhere. The police stopped a couple behind us for jay-walking. At least that's we what we figured as we pelted across another road and hid round the corner. It's also possible that they were just asking for directions. There's something about being in such a studio-set atmosphere which makes you assume that the most dramatic storyline is the most likely one.
We obviously weren't the only ones with HBO syndrome. As we were approaching the gates of the White House we saw a formation of police on shiny blue bicycles. As they got closer it became clear that they were escorting a small anti-capitalist protest as they marched down the mall. There couldn't have been more than twenty protesters, all young kids waving homemade banners. They were outnumbered by at least two to one by the mounted cops. Overkill, much? we muttered, but then the rest of the force loomed into sight. Another twenty men on bikes, a pack of motorcycles and then at least a dozen squad cars headed up the tail of the procession, lights whirling. At the back was a van of riot cops from the Truancy and Delinquency Department. I can say with absolute certainty that this was one protest that wasn't about to get out of hand.
My theory is that DC is filled with all the po-lease who don't want to walk a Baltimore beat. They've seen the Wire too, and have decided that they're going to stick with being on the third motorbike from the back, hiding the truant kids' protest from curious tourists and West Wing fans. And can you really blame 'em?