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Thursday, October 27, 2016


A lot of disturbing things have been happening this year. Number one might be the election, but I don't want to talk about that. Number two might be that other clown craze which started in August and continued with such a fervor that even our local high schools were receiving threats last month. As Halloween approaches, will another outbreak occur? Check out this excellent article in the New York Times What Do the Scary Clowns Want?   by Bess Lovejoy. She includes this salient point:

Benjamin Radford, author of the recent book “Bad Clowns,” points out, “It’s misleading to ask when clowns turned bad, for they were never really good.” 

This pretty much affirms my lifelong aversion to grease paint. 

The article also touches on why urban legends persist.  I know one whopper started at Wilson High School thanks to my late great friend Mark Petsche. That was the year Mark showed up at my house dressed for Halloween as "Bunny Man" in a white sweatshirt and tall ears. I didn't quite get it until he showed me the axe.  That's when I convinced him we should go over to the park where my first born and her teen age friends were hanging out- too cool for trick or treat. Back then an abandoned house conveniently provided the perfect place for lurking, and sure enough we spotted them there.  What happened next is a bit Blair Witch blurry, but I do remember screams drowned out any attempt at explanation as the kids tore off in all directions.

Marshall Keith, a founding member of DC's legendary Slickee Boys, is more mysterious than spooky and definitely more musical than your average axe wielding rodent.

This Saturday night Marshall will be performing at Ivy City Smokehouse- a relatively new concert space and tavern. Jumpin' Jupiter and The Stents will round out this party and costume contest with a $100 gift certificate going to the winner. No clowning around!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

At the Bus Stop with Ian Hunter

I know I'm going for mossback status here, but I remember when the Metro was so new and exotic we would buy a fare card just to ride around.  "People Going Nowhere" as Crippled Pilgrims used to say. Once the Metro was in full swing, however, it became almost unthinkable to take the bus. The red line spawned the blue which begat the yellow and so forth. The Metro was a great way to get around until it wasn't.

Now I've come full circle back to the bus. I've learned to to chase the elusive D5, rely on the M4 and embrace the D6 -that rambling wreck of a route which traverses the city from Sibley Hospital to Stadium Armory. Just a buck seventy five will get you a little over an hour's worth of travel. The bus offers a solace that might be lost on those trying to dash downtown in their own private bubbles. The bus driver may well be the first and only person to wish me a good morning. I like to get a window seat as we tour my neighborhood.  There's that woman with trapezoid hair that I haven't seen in a while. She wears neon blinding running shoes and jogs along at a speed just past walking looking like she may pitch over momentarily. As we go along admitting fellow travelers the volume rises and falls affording great eavesdropping opportunities or time to catch up on my reading. It's a DC amusement park ride as we barrel down New Hampshire Avenue trying to make up lost time before hitting the grid lock of K Street which doesn't loosen up until near 13th Street.  The route bobs and weaves across the city. There is even a stop at dc space. Too bad it's a Starbucks now.

Whatever way you get around I recommend getting down to the Hamilton this Monday night. DC's own Dot Dash will be opening for the man, no, as Craig Ferguson once put it so well- " the rock god" that is Ian Hunter who incidentally inspired the name of this blog. Learn how here.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Great Pumpkin Lives at Homestead

Homestead Farm 2003

What's going on this weekend? Beautiful weather. A tinge of fall. Might be a good time for a ride out in the country to get pumpkins and the like. When I was growing up, Homestead Farm was a bit hard to find hidden away down not so paved roads outside a one horse burg called Poolesville. And before I discovered it, before we had pavement, James Allnutt bought 746 acres near the Potomac River in 1763- long before we'd even sealed the deal with England. And a mere 250 some years later, Ben Allnutt is still farming 230 acres of that original parcel having made it through all the struggles that a family farm entails. Man, that's a lot of hard work. Help keep this place going with a visit, and you'll get the whole 9 yards of all things autumnal: hay rides, cider, apples and of course-pumpkins.

Back in town I recommend the NRIS at IOTA if you are looking for something to do on Saturday night. The first time I saw this band play, they were all stuffed into the front window of the  Galaxy Hut.  While I founder for adjectives to explain their vibe,  you can watch a clip from that very show in 2012. The sound quality includes genuine club noise interference, but I think you can get an idea of their energy and come up with your own modifiers. Plus they've been practicing for three years since that video was taken. The show includes an album release party plus Sam Cooper and the Sleepwalkers -all for ten bucks. Sounds good to me.


Thursday, October 6, 2016

A Not So Cautionary Tale of Procrastination

Random crime hit our neighborhood a few weeks back when police surmise that one or two gangs descended to ransack and steal cars. My car did not escape notice, but I wonder if the spree stopped there because the next car down was untouched even though it was left unlocked with expensive things inside. I think my block might have been spared because of Ed, the dead guy in my car.

I didn't mean to leave him there, but I am a terrible procrastinator. Ed arrived in a cardboard carton from Maine with a little note from a friend who hoped I could help fulfill Ed's wish to swim with the fishes in the Chesapeake Bay. My friend suggested I might toss him off the bridge on the way to the beach which is easier said than done when you consider little things like traffic and legalities. A fishing trip seemed a more likely scenario, but when the opportunity arrived, poor Ed was overlooked. Left behind, he languished on a radiator behind the fisherman's front door for months, semi- forgotten until I spotted him there. I  figured if I took him home he might have a better chance of rising to the top of the to-do list, but alas, he landed in my car, and between summertime laissez-faire and an upcoming trip out west, Ed spent most of August tooling around town running errands before we left him behind once more.

Upon our return, school started up again and before I knew it, Ed became further buried in reusable shopping bags and books headed for the thrift store. And so it was that on that fateful Friday in September when the thieves hit our neighborhood, dear old Ed was still resting in peace in his cardboard carton on the back seat -perhaps giving new meaning to the term "neighborhood watch."

Early the following morning, a neighbor called to tell me that my car doors were wide open, and things were a mess. I hurried outside to find the contents of the glovebox strewn across the front seat and a change purse tossed onto the sidewalk. A poncho and picnic blanket had been pulled out of a small backpack and tossed aside, but a thrift store bound DVD player was left untouched right where it was-next to Ed's empty carton.  I can only imagine what happened next when, after opening the grey plastic box within, a small pile of Ed fell on the seat. And although the cardboard was left by the DVD player, someone carefully placed Ed's official funeral home box right side up in the back of the car with most of Ed still in it -almost as if he were now properly riding in a hearse.

This may be one of the few times that procrastination has paid off, but in general, good people, it's not the best idea. Procrastination leads to inactivity which leads to societal rot which leads to musicians not getting paid. Please check out the calendar in the sidebar at DC ROCKS. There's plenty of music you've been meaning to see this weekend. And next weekend, too....and the one after that.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Your Own Reality

Call me a sadist, but I forced everyone in my house to watch the debates last Monday. I even printed out language specific bingo cards, to keep things interesting, but weirdly enough none of us won. If only Hilary had taken a sip of water or if the Donald had said the word "huge." ("Braggadocious" was not on the game card.)

Then I woke up this morning thinking about the different worlds of slang. Politicians pursue things like birthers until they need to walk it back, double down or pivot with the one percent.  Musicians ? They like to woodshed until they can shred without clams for cabbage. 

Both politics and music will be in the air at the Takoma Park Street Festival  although fortunately harmony and funk will be the overwhelming vibe here in this nuclear free land where even 16 year olds have the right to vote. Besides the usual outstanding farmer's market, food vendors and artists galore will line the streets while nineteen bands play all day long on three different stages. Two will be at either end of the festival and one in the middle at the gazebo. Check out the local hepcats without laying down a lot of lettuce and have a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Sunday. 

(Link above has full schedule and more information)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Down For the Count

I think I stopped watching the evening news about twenty five years ago- shortly after the best sportscaster ever, Glenn Brenner left the planet. I mean what was the point?  Every night we heard about all the scary stuff going on, but with Glenn gone, there was no one there to make you laugh your head off at the end of the broadcast. When he was "in charge" of sports, even non athletics fans like myself tuned in just to see what he would do next. Once he turned anchor Maureen "Mo" Bunyan into a Damon Runyon character, complete with fedora and cigar, to prognosticate the upcoming games. Another time he enlisted Sister Marie Louise, a nun and rabid foot ball fan.

This Friday my kind of sporting event is happening at Bethesda Blues (which has now decided to be Bethesda Live.)  Blue eyed soul crews King Soul and Soul Crackers will be duking it out in a mock battle of the bands called "The Thrilla in Vanilla."  The loser  gives up the right to use the word "soul" in their name. (Gotta give these boys points for creativity here.) Not just a concert, this will be a danceable exercise in hilarity. I'll bet Glenn would've loved to be a ref in this ring.

Hit the link above to watch a tribute to Glenn Brenner/ a trip down memory lane.

Friday, September 16, 2016

All the Small Things

Sometimes it takes an outside eye to catch your own style. My friend Wendy was the one who pointed out to me my penchant for little things.  She walked into my kitchen one day, picked up my mouse sized cast iron frying pan and started laughing. Then she pointed out the colander that comfortably might hold four or five raspberries and a bottle of hot sauce that was only slightly taller than the miniature troll standing next to it -if you didn't count his hair. I'd always heard that "good things come in small packages" as a kid, but I wasn't aware that I had embraced that idea. I gravitate towards sliders, silver dollar pancakes and definitely pint sized venues.

As far as night life goes, I think the Galaxy Hut on Wilson Boulevard in Arlington might be the tiniest coolest bar I know. It holds around 50 people and has 28 taps -none of which are Budweiser. This place certainly isn't for everyone, but I have seen some of the best shows I can remember within the confines  of that space including many by the founder herself- Alice Despard. This Sunday catch The Rambling Shadows (for those of you with in tact memories -you might remember folks from The Crippled Pilgrims and Black Market Baby.) and the Gully Jimson Quartet. Five dollars is the perennial cover charge here to keep the bands from starving.


My new favorite radio show from the land of Lilliput is on WOWD-a low power radio station in Takoma Park, Maryland. (The station's bathroom might be bigger than the studio space.) The format focuses on hyper local things, but on Sunday mornings from 9-12, DC music fans anywhere on the world wide web can tune in to "The Forbidden Alliance Show" hosted by music connoisseur Robbie White and his able assistant former WHFS deejay Weasel. Robbie plays anything but top 40 and has a jam packed schedule interviewing local musicians and the like.  This Sunday's show will feature Joe Dolan of the Beatnik Flies and the Vi-kings. Creative radio as it should be - far from the corporate world.