2023 Highlights

How do you sum up a year? Looking back at 2023, these are my highlights.

The year began with Georgetown Glow, an annual show of light art in Washington, DC. This piece along the Potomac was a good reminder of how ephemeral our lives are. Time is running out for all of us.


Later that month, I was in the right spot at the right time to capture the perfect photo of a chud facing justice.

This wasn’t luck. I knew who this strange character was: Ron J Spike, a “rapper” associated with the Freedom Corner January 6th cult outside the DC Jail. I saw him causing problems at the Women’s March and figured that he was dumb enough to get himself in trouble. He slapped at a woman and was detained.

pro-Trump rapper Ron J Spike gets detained outside the White House for shoving a woman at the pro-choice Women's March

March brought the cherry blossoms again. I read an article about this persevering cherry blossom tree and visited a couple times before I made this photo.

Stumpy the persevering cherry blossom tree

The Rage Against the War Machine Rally brought together many surreal sights, including seeing Code Pink collaborate with the Proud Boys against aid for Ukraine. But what was most shocking for me was seeing Communist emblems in the heart of Washington. I thought we won the Cold War?

communist at the Rage Against the War Machine rally

The mountains of North Carolina are my happy place. Visiting in April, I got to experience multiple seasons as I went up and down elevations. Spring had just begun in Waynesville when I arrived.

two red chairs

This was the year I became Red Bike Guy. If I knew I was going to be on TV, I would’ve dressed better, lol. Everyone should be famous for fifteen minutes just to feel what it’s like. It was thrilling, gratifying and overwhelming all at once.

Rachel Maddow show appearance

Right after I became famous, I went to the Sunshine State for a family event, where I was blissfully unrecognized. Florida is a different kind of place, where free-range roosters are not unusual.

rooster in Ybor City

Back in DC, I went to one of my favorite events of the year: Exposed DC. This annual photography show features views of DC that you won’t see in any tourist brochure. I’ve had photos in the show before. In 2023, the photos were displayed in a Mount Pleasant alley.

Exposed DC 2023

And then came the highlight of the year for me: biking across the Netherlands! Four friends, five bikes, six days and countless adventures as we biked from Amsterdam to Bruges. A life-changing journey that taught me that a better world was possible, one in which the auto doesn’t reign supreme. If you want to see what heaven looks like, visit the Netherlands.

we biked across the Netherlands!

I wasn’t the only troll who went famous in 2023. Anarchy Princess did too, after triggering Peter Navarro with a sign reading, “Trump lost (and you know it).” It was surreal to see her blast off on the same rocket I did. She deserves all the fame and accolades for harassing the fascist 1776RM and Freedom Corner movements.

Anarchy Princess

Anarchy Princess became a meme and then her words became chalktifa outside the Federal Court House, part of the trolling shenanigans in DC.

Trump lost (and you know it!)

Open Streets Georgia Av is one of those beautiful urban events that sadly only occurs a few hours a year. In Europe, the streets would be closed to cars but open to people all the time. Georgia Avenue was transformed as people of all ages got to enjoy the street (briefly) before it reverted to a traffic sewer.

pickle ball at Open Streets Georgia Av

Beyond Granite was a wild series of art installations that livened up the august spaces of the National Mall. The Soil You See… by Wendy Red Star is a monumental fingerprint with the names of the Apsáalooke (Crow) nation chiefs who signed treaties with the U.S. government, in dialogue with the nearby 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence Memorial.

The Soil You See… by Wendy Red Star

The photo is blurry but trust me: I yelled at Trump. Less than a hundred feet away and he definitely heard me. After seeing his mob trash my city, this was a moment that I can only describe as cathartic.

Trump blur

Not a good sign for the environment, but this year featured some incredible sunsets.

sunset and the Washington Monument

No one does Halloween like the people of Capitol Hill. Hats on the Hill featured black hats hanging from wires as if they were floating in air.

Hats on the Hill

The workers of the Washington Post went on a one-day strike for better pay and benefits. Sadly, Jeff Bezos continues to gut the paper as writers and columnists take buyouts and leave.

STRIKE! Workers at The Washington Post on a one day strike

The best Christmas tree in Washington is not at the White House or the Capitol, but at the Canadian Embassy.

Christmas Tree at the Embassy of Canada in Washington, DC

The year ended as it began, with Georgetown Glow. Is this a preview of what is to come? Taking Heads by Viktor Vicsek highlights how we’ve invested too much in our machines and not enough in people. Now, they threaten to overtake us, and replace us with a world of ones and zeroes, with a few billionaires at the helm.

Taking Heads by Viktor Vicsek at Georgetown Glow

Author: Joe Flood

Joe Flood is a writer, photographer and web person from Washington, DC. The author of several novels, Joe won the City Paper Fiction Competition in 2020. In his free time, he enjoys wandering about the city taking photos.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *