D.C. may be getting a little less attention from a masked avenger sworn to defend it.
Most people in the District combat crime by being "eyes on the street," ready to call 911 whenever a thug snatches an iPhone, but a few do more. They don tights and cape and roam the streets as colorfully clad instruments of justice.
DC's Guardian is a "real life superhero" who hits District streets in order to foil the plans of bad guys by walking around, passing out safety fliers, and seeking missing people. According to an article appearing in this month's GQ he stalks "troubled areas behind the Capitol building" in his stars-and-stripes outfit.
"What I noticed was everyone was waiting for someone else to do something," he told NPR of the genesis of his patrols. Interested in tagging along, City Desk has been trying to contact the Guardian since Wednesday. We began to wonder if D.C. had lost its champion.
A colleague of D.C.'s Guardian, Prime Penguin, who is based outside Philadelphia, says catching the Guardian is difficult. ”It's an issue," says Penguin.
Penguin, who declined to give his real name or the Guardian's real name because of the whole secret identity thing, is a member of the Skiffytown League of Heroes.
The Guardian is the president of the nonprofit, which supplies superheroes for charity events. Unlike the Guardian, who walks a beat, Penguin and other members of Skiffytown are strictly performers.
In any event, Penguin explains the Guardian hasn't been in a great position to perform superheroic feats for his city of late.
A year and a half ago, his job transferred him to an undisclosed location far from the District. He gets back when he can, says Penguin: "I know he's back several times a year." Penguin says the Guardian has an intense job and is struggling to maintain both of his identities.
If you're a nerd like me, you grew up pondering getting fitted for a cape one day and striking down neighborhood villains. I can't help admiring the Guardian. If he's bogged down by work commitments these days, here's hoping another will rise in his place.Is D.C. Down a Superhero?
was originally published by Washington City Paper
on Aug. 12, 2011.