27 August 2008

Couldn't even stay away a month...

I was down at the NGA last weekend mainly trying to find a place to read where I wouldn't be bothered before I headed over to some friends on Capitol Hill who were putting me up for the night, since, after all, this was my first trip back to DC as a visitor rather than a resident in 15 years.

After a bit of reading and a little consternation that the movie that day, Antonioni's Deserta rossa, didn't start until 4:30 and would last until 6:30, therefore ruling out my being able to watch it, I decided I should really try to see something while at the gallery. For the past eight years it's been an incredibly rare opportunity that I've been at any museum without at least one child dragging me off long before I wanted to go, and you have to take advantage when you can. So I wandered into the West Wing to take a look at the Martin Puryear exhibition.

Puryear is from D.C., although his artistic materials seem more suited to some rural farm -- lots of rough wood and mesh enclosures that reminded me of chicken pens -- although highly stylized chicken pens. Some of the pieces are remarkable. I enjoyed the scale of the Desire (pictured at top of page, and hopefully you see what I mean about there being something rustic about the whole contraption. It almost seems like one of those old style threshing set ups but broken down to minimal form and shifted components. Very beautiful in my opinion.
I got my gallery fix in, but I couldn't help wishing I had a little more time to see the Antonioni film and maybe even the concert they generally have on Sunday evenings in one of the west wing atriums, staples of our pre-children days. Afterwards it was off to Capitol Hill and a delicious dinner with a little wine and lots of conversation -- after all, DC schools opened the next day and my hosts have a third grader -- and oh yes a little more reading.

23 August 2008

Dropping the baton.

Joe Biden?

In the words of John McEnroe, "You cannot be serious."

Well, if I suppose Nixon can be rehabilitated as a "statesman" post-Watergate, I suppose Joe Biden can become a VP candidate post-Anita Hill.

Of course, more recently, although a sad sad five plus years ago now, Biden was one of the most vocal proponents of ignoring Congress's Constitutional responsibilities and signing over to the Bush Regime a blank check for the Iraq Boondoggle.

So much for "Change We Can Believe In."

How sad.

18 August 2008

Olympic letdown.

I just turned on the Olympics and I know I must have the wrong channel. They're showing people jumping up and down on trampolines like they're in a backyard in West Virginia. WTF? Have the Olympics sunk this low? Or has this new non-sport replaced the old non-sports of rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized swimming?

14 August 2008

Ocean City may be a pit, but I've cumulatively spent about a year and a half of my life there.

I was down in Ocean City, MD, recently, enjoying some beautiful weather and Thrasher fries and being amazingly out of touch with teh internets. Unplugging can be a beautiful thing, at least for a time. Unfortunately, if you need to interact with other parts of the world, being unplugged can be mighty inconvenient. Email tends to pile up.

On the beach, I was noticing all these aging bodies with their sad tattoos and thinking that for most people, tattoos are really only attractive -- if at all -- for a short period of your late youth. Look, I'm not young and I've never in my life been confused for chiseled, but I can guarantee you that my modest spread would look even worse with a tattoo adorning my sagging tapestry. As you might guess, the "tramp stamp" does not age well.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, our lifeguard was a great trip. Every few hours another lifeguard would relieve him, and he would use his break to do pushups and crunches behind the lifeguard chair, much to the delight of the ladies and perhaps a few men. He became even more intriguing one day when he called the beachgoers over to his chair for the obligatory shorebreak speech and unleashed his foreign accent on the assembly. Turns out he was Quebecois, a fact we discovered the day we moved out of our rental apartment only to realize we'd been living next to him the whole week.

Speaking of our little rental apartment, we had a little surprise when we arrived late on Sunday night. The typical move-in day in the OC is Saturday, but we were otherwise occupied, so someone else picked our keys up and held them for us until we arrived...late Sunday night. So around midnight, we're coming up to the door of the place and the TV is on. I turn the key and come face to face with some shirtless man who turns out to be the owner of the unit who thought no one had rented it that week. A little embarrassing all around, but he picked his sheet and pillow up off the sofa and drove off in his truck to parts unknown.

13 August 2008

Dropping the veil.

My my my it's been a busy few weeks.

Let me let you in on a little secret.

I'm leaving the District of Columbia. Lighting out from the territories, if you will. To a bona fide state, or at least a commonwealth, and I'm not talking about that nasty place across the river.

When I first moved here in 1993, to the lush semi-suburbs of Woodley Park, I had no intention of staying a decade, let alone 15 years. Last year I had no intention (or at least prospects) of leaving. But chance rolls the dice.

I was a young lad then, not exactly strapping, but young nevertheless. I worked a night job at a university and trudged home winter nights after the Metro had closed and before I understood -- or cared to understand -- the bus system, stopping briefly at KramerBooks to browse the literature and philosophy sections as I warmed up for the big walk up the hill and over the Taft Bridge.

Then it was Logan Circle, where my roommate and I would watch the prostitutes chatting up the line of johns in their cars stretching down N Street by the all night gas station. That's when the Circle itself was nearly deserted except for the homeless and dealers and 14th Street's main features were the Black Cat and Barrel House Liquors.

Finally, I settled in Adams Morgan when I tell you -- and I kid you not -- a spacious two-bedroom with a beautiful westward view could be had for $850/mo utils incl... The Diner was an auto supply store, those red brick Adams Lofts, whose architecture I think was inspired by the Holocaust Museum, were nothing more than a surface parking lot, and Club Heaven was still playing some of the shittiest music ever recorded.

Let's give thanks for the good things...El Tamarindo, Astor Mediterranean, the recently departed San Marco (which beat the pants off Pasta Mia), The Common Share, Idle Times, DCCD, Crooked Beat, walking to the Zoo, biking anywhere else...

I suppose I could post a more general lamentation about the death of the District's independent and used bookstores...Kultura, Neil's, Vertigo, a basement place on U Street between 15th and 16th whose name escapes me now, Chapters (though they claim they're not closed...). Fortunately, we've still got Bridge Street Books, Idle Times, and Second Story.

Movie theatres, record stores...you know the run down. Hats off to the Biograph, the Key, the Janus, and the savior of all tight graduate student budgets, the Foundry.


Well, I'm not shutting down shop quite yet, but I'm not sure what the future brings.

Until next time...