Posted Monday, March 8, 1999, at 7:00 PM ET

I don't want to create the impression that I'm paranoid, but big black helicopters are circling my house as I write this. This is not an unusual occurrence. I don't mean writing--which, these days, is highly unusual--but the big black helicopters.

When I covered night cops at the Washington Post, my colleagues and I, in the interest of reportorial efficiency, divided the city into two sectors. D.C. residents either lived on quiet, tree-lined streets or on trash-strewn, drug-infested streets. There was no such thing, in the night-cop playbook, as a quiet, drug-infested neighborhood, or a tree-lined, trash-strewn neighborhood.

But when we moved to American University Park (Motto: "A Second-Tier Neighborhood for a Third-Tier University") a couple of years ago, I realized that there is such a thing in D.C. as a national security neighborhood. These neighborhoods are tree-lined and decisively un-trash-strewn, but they are not quiet, on account of the black helicopters.
Read more

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to