Saturday, June 30, 2007

An Anniversary of Sorts

You go through life pretty much not expecting the worse- at least I do. I know stuff happens- car accidents, assaults...random horrible tradgedies like little land mines explode without warning, but it wasn't until 1999 that the stuff really hit the fan for me. Just after my good friend, Peter got over grumbling about hitting 40, he was diagnosed with incurable cancer. Two other friends were diagnosed the same year, and then the unthinkable, my eight year old was diagnosed with Leukemia. She is lucky. Three years of chemo-therapy worked for her, and now we only go back to the Lombardi Center for an annual check up.

So back I go down a memory lane I'd just as soon forget, but the clinic there puts any play room to shame. Toys, games, a bank of computers, a VCR and a TV. A great big paper mache tree that goes from floor to ceiling and is constantly being decorated for the season. (Right now there are hand made birdhouses and cranes and paper tissue flowers.) Every holiday and birthday and special occasions are all celebrated. And there are art therapists hanging around- all kinds of art supplies and a kiln. As much joy as possible is produced here to mask the grim yet hopeful business of curing cancer. I didn't know when we started that we were lucky to live only a couple of miles away from this clinic right here in Washington.

So we go in, and the parking guy actually remembers me, and every one falls on us as we haven't been there in quite awhile. My daughter immediately goes to the computer as she always did, and seems to take it all in stride. I sit for a few minutes, then head to the art table where I can't seem to stop churning out stationery with drawing paper, stamps and a glue stick.

No one blinks twice at me sitting in a child's chair. Other kids come in and paint at an easel or another table. I am left alone except for an occasional compliment on my project. I have a hard time talking to anyone there. I can only hope that the sight of my healthy daughter will inspire one of the other parents sitting near by. I hear one mother trying to convince her little boy to leave. We'll be back next Tuesday, she says, you can finish your painting then...Her little boy doesn't want to leave. He wears a little face mask, and he is too young to realize as fun as it is, this is also a hard place to be. And even as my heart goes out to the both of them, I leave the cards that I made on the table. I am grateful that we (fingers crossed) won't be back for another year.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Ottley/Beatnik Fly Alert

Sangha on Westmoreland Avenue in Takoma Park is an unusual space- part store-part somebody's living room- and furthermore, it's a really fun place to see a band. Two blasts (and I don't use that word lightly) from our area past will be there this Saturday. Slickee boy legends, Marshall Keith and Martha Hull make up two out of three members of Ottley- a self described garage band. And Bob Berberich, the other member, was the original drummer for Grin and the Hangmen. The Beatnik Flies have been together, well, since dinosaurs roamed the Earth, but they played Sangha a few months ago, and it was great. It's amazing what this town can cough up in the way of talent.
So here's the scoop from Joe Dolan, spokesman Fly:
"The doors open at 8:30. Ottley will go on about 9:30 for a one hour set. The Beatnik Flies will start at 10:50, and will play until we can't play no more. We are planning on about 20 songs.
We especially encourage young people to check us out, cause they
usually dig us once they do. Is it our girlish hairdos and dandyish cloths? We don't know.
People should try to get there early, 'cause I don't know how many people this place holds. Admission is
$10 or $6 with student ID. A portion of the proceeds
will be donated to "HUNGRY FOR MUSIC" a charity that
provides musical instruments to kids that cannot afford to buy them.
Also we will be celebrating two birthdays: Martha Hull
(legendary singer of Ottley) and Jennifer (the hard
working lady who runs Sangha Cafe/Sangha Peace
Project. So lets rock!"

Yep, let's go!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Ian Hunter and ME

Sometime long ago, way back in my salad days when the Capitol Center was still alive, I realized that without really good seats, it wasn't worth seeing a rock show there- especially if you were in the nosebleed sections, as we used to call 'em. And the "sky boxes" that everyone raved about were really just party rooms where you might as well be watching the band on TV.

Last night was just the opposite when Ian Hunter and his Rant band played at the Ram's Head in Annapolis. The space only holds 250 people, and the show was sold out. Ian Hunter, a legendary rock god in his own rite, and his band shook that place to the walls and back from his opening number until the encore. He sang new original songs, some older stuff, and did a great reprise of Mott the Hoople materiel in the end. He is one of those accomplished musicians that is still producing, not just relying on his past. His songs are powerful, topical,and soulful. And seeing him from our table, not more than 20 feet away was a beautiful, amazing thing. Sometimes he sang right to me. (OK, and to everyone around me.) I don't miss the Cap Center at all.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Monday, June 25, 2007

At Least the Music Is Still Free

Tonight you can catch one of those free concerts at Fort Reno -the highest spot in our nation's capitol. (It IS still OUR nation, right? Somebody needs to remind Dick Chaney.) Anyway music might be a good way to take our minds off the fact that this administration seems hell bent on making Thomas Jefferson roll in his grave. In fact he's probably spinning like a top by now. What ever happened to the concept of public servants?

LeJeune, Pup Tent and Engine Room all play tonight starting at 7:15 until 9:30. Come on out. Show the world DC is not just for megalomaniacs. Peace.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Past Is Still Here

Fugazi @ Fort Reno -2000
The kids on my block are practicing for our neighbor's annual summer party called Fete de
la Musique. Everybody that wants to can perform. My daughter is in an all girl rock band covering Pink Floyd and Queen. (Don't ask me- I couldn't tell you.) It's a great thing though to see the old rock holding it's own with the new music- especially among the young.

Plus the concerts at Fort Reno are starting up again, and my son rode his bike up there to check it out for the first time. ( I didn't tell him his parents had taken him more than once to see Fugazi when he was much younger.)

Even Deejays like Cerphe and Weasel are still kicking around this town, though it's somewhat disconcerting to hear Weasel in the morning. I tell my kids I used to be up doing homework and listening to him do his maniacal thing at night on WHFS, our "home grown" radio in Bethesda. Then in the morning, somebody at the station would play "Rainy Day Woman #12 & 35" by Dylan-- ( "Everybody Must Get Stoned...") just when we'd pull into the school parking lot which we thought was both hilarious and bold. Half the time we'd be late going in because we didn't want to get out of the car. That was radio worth listening to.

Friday, June 22, 2007

DC Curfew Stands

There were not enough votes yesterday to pass legislation for a stricter curfew in DC. The old curfew is still in place, however, and kIds (even if they are from the suburbs) have to be off the streets by 11 on week nights and 12 on weekends which is a more reasonable policy than what was proposed. A proponent of the curfew said that they didn't want 13 year olds running around until midnight, but the age the curfew included started at age 17, and as we all know, there's a world of difference between 13 and 17. Anyway-bring the kids to the next all ages show- or let 'em come on their own. It's still a free city-sort of.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Tell the DC Council -VOTE NO on the SUMMER Curfew!

DC may not rock if the new summer curfew is passed today. An email went out from Dante at the Black Cat pointing out that this legislation could be the death of all ages shows in the District-which ironically cuts off yet another outlet for kids. Seventeen and under would have to be home by ten o' clock on a week night, eleven on the weekends. (My parents were pretty strict with me, but even they weren't that bad.) What a shame that good kids everywhere would have to pay for an all be it very bad few.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pen Pals

O.K. I found out today my friend, Laura is not a writer in New York. She's an activist.(Close enough.)
That's what happens when you don't lay eyes on someone for 15 years or so. Things fall between the cracks. I had a pen pal once. We wrote hundreds of letters dating from around 1973. It all started in Williamsburg, Virginia when his family and my family would sit on the little hotel stoop in the evening. He talked to my sister and mother most of the time and ignored me.(I was five years younger than he was.) Sometimes he would play his guitar. Still,we must have spoken at some point because on the last evening, he asked me for my address and promised to send the chords to "Stairway To Heaven" which he did. (Unfortunately, by the time I learned to play it no one wanted to hear it.) From then on we wrote and wrote and wrote- ten years - maybe more. Then he got married, and that was the end of that.
The good news is by then I had befriended his family, and am STILL friends with a cousin who also got married, but that wasn't the end of anything. I gained the cousin, his wife and now they have two kids- same ages as mine almost. After the initial shock of losing my pen pal, I realize we are friends with or without being in touch- although a lot of stuff probably has fallen through the cracks, the relationship still goes on.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Heat Index

Hazy hot and humid. Some things about DC never change except now we have this thing called the heat index which Bob Ryan keeps mentioning. If the thermometer doesn't make you run screaming for a cold shower, the heat index will make you wonder why we would ever get OUT of a shower. ("It's 95 out there, but it FEELS like 102.")
On the music side of things:
My friend, John Meadows is trying to find small bands to play at 100 King Street, the restaurant he's managing in Old Town, Alexandria. And Eric Brace is going to town gathering kudos for Last Train Home's latest CD- including a good review in the Washington Post of the band's last show at Iota, and a mention in USA Today of all things. (Do people read that thing if they aren't traveling?)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Happy Birthday

Today is Mark Noone's Birthday. He's been hanging around this town since Lincoln got here, and he's been giving us music almost as long. Punk, rock, country, (Or is that punk rock country?) Hawaiian western swing. Went to school for it, teaches it. Plays it, sings it, lives it. Go see him if you have a chance. He's in the Rhodes Tavern Troubadours and the Hula Monsters, and if you're really lucky-at a Slickee Boy reunion.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Mayor For Life

Marion Barry,
you gotta love him.
He just dodged another bullet.
He got off on drunk driving charges because there was no proof that he was intoxicated. There was testimony that his eyes were red, and his speech was slurred, but it turns out he's always like that.
If that isn't poetic justice, I don't know what is.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

We Who Dumpster Dive

So why is it that so many of my friends are junkers? I just got back from the hardware store where I saw a guy who is involved with music, and he just saw another musician we both know up at Unique Thrift on Viers Mill. Last time I was in Unique Thrift on New Hampshire Avenue, I ran into my friend, Laura who is a writer. The amazing part is she lives in New York, and I hadn't seen her in over ten years.
Is it something to do with the artistic nature? Or is it because we are a frugal people?
Or perhaps we are frugal because our  artistic nature creates creatures short on cash flow.

Anyway I found this great little table and chair set that I had to literally sit on while my friend (a musician- what else?) went and got the Man Who Writes the Ticket Up so you can buy the thing. There was another customer hovering and hinting how great it would be to have this set for a party. He offered to buy it from me as soon as he realized he wasn't going to get it himself.

I felt sorry for him momentarily, but look- now I can be the one to have a party and invite all my artistic and hard up friends.