Yesterday’s Washington Post had an interesting article about a new way to describe the Washington, D.C. area. Some folks are now using the nickname ‘The DMV‘ (District, Maryland and Virginia).
By Paul Farhi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 30, 2010; C01
New York is “the Big Apple” and Chicago “the Windy City,” but unless the earnest and obvious “Nation’s Capital” is your idea of a cool handle, Washington and its environs have never gotten very far in the civic nickname game.
We are pleased to report, however, that this could be changing. A nickname has recently emerged that could put the Washington area on the regional nickname map: the DMV. As in, D for the District, M for Maryland, and V for Virginia.
Sleek, succinct and inclusive, the name has been in common use for several years among the area’s — ahem, the DMV’s — hip-hop and go-go music crowd. It’s familiar to listeners of black-oriented radio stations such as WKYS-FM and WPGC-FM, whose DJs decorate their patter with mentions of it. It also pops up as geographical shorthand (“DMV man seeks woman”) on Craigslist, the classified-ad Web site.
It’s safe to say, however, that most of the rest of the DMV’s populace is unaware that the DMV refers to anything other than a certain sluggish city bureaucracy. Although the phrase has appeared irregularly in The Washington Post, most mainstream news sources haven’t picked up on it.
When I think of the phrase DMV I’m thinking the Department of Motor Vehicles. Though in Maryland it’s the MVA (Motor Vehicle Administration). I have noticed that The DMV is used while listening to the radio when they do news bits but I don’t listen to WKYS and WPGC. I tend to use the D.C. Metro area.
As hip locutions go, “the DMV” might even be displacing “Chocolate City,” the olde tyme designation for black Washington. For all its racial echoes and connotations, “Chocolate City” is increasingly limited; Washington’s suburbs have grown exponentially since the term was in vogue and are now home to more African Americans than the District itself.
I definitely remember the phrase Chocolate City when describing Washington, D.C. D.C. use to be Chocolate City back in the day when the black population was hovering around 70%. The group Parliament had an album back in 1975 titled Chocolate City.
According to Wikipedia:
The album takes its name from the term “Chocolate City,” which had been used to describe Washington, D.C. where blacks had been becoming a majority through migration (as explained in the cover notes included with one recent CD release of the album). The term had been used by Washington’s black AM radio stations WOL-AM and WOOK-AM since the early 1970s to refer to the city. Bobby “The Mighty Burner” Bennett, a DJ on WOL, told the Washington Post in 1998 “Chocolate City for me was the expression of D.C.’s classy funk and confident blackness.
But like yesterday’s Post article stated black folks have spread out to the Maryland and Virginia suburbs. D.C. is more diverse now.
I guess with other cities using various nicknames like Atlanta (the ATL or the 404), Houston (H-Town), San Francisco (the Bay area), Los Angeles (Southland), Chicago (Chi-town or the Windy City), Philadelphia (City of Brotherly Love), New York City (the Big Apple) some folks in the D.C. Metro area are looking for a similar type of nickname. But The DMV? Sorry but I’m not feeling this one. Folks looking for a nickname need to go back to the drawing board.