Sunday, November 30, 2014

Where Are They Now? Part 2 Outside the Comfort Zone

I guess it's an official series if there are two parts of "Where Are They Now?"  Here's my second story about what's up with high school graduates from the Class of 2011. 

Way before Paris Achenbach started Wilson High school, she knew she loved the great outdoors. She felt like she belonged in the woods as much or more than at her home in Washington, DC. As a high school student, she became deeply concerned about the environment. She also loved playing piano. Progressive and musical Oberlin seemed like a good fit for her when it came time for college, but surprisingly, she never did take a single environmental studies course. Instead she found herself majoring in geology which provided a deeper (hah!)  understanding of our planet. She imagined herself becoming "a bad ass scientist," exploring caves in Greenland and pulling up ice cores to measure climate change.

However, a semester abroad in New Zealand would change her mind and her life. She discovered that however wondrous studying a glacier was in the field, she didn't really like the dryer aftermath of analyzing data. Instead the beautiful countryside further inspired her love of writing and photography so much so that she found herself writing every day.

Back in Ohio, Paris created a blog about college life at Oberlin and went on to graduate with a major in geology and a minor in English. After graduation, Paris returned to DC and spent the next year and a half figuring out what in the world she was going to do next.

This journey included: working on a coffee plantation in Jamaica, teaching kayaking in the San Juan Islands,

and walking the Camino in Spain with her two younger sisters- a journey you can read about here. 

Besides travel, Paris tried to get serious by pursuing career building internships. She worked at the Wilson Center and the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. Both positions paid well, and looked good on a resume, but living safely in Washington, writing about disasters elsewhere left Paris feeling disconnected. She describes herself as a 23 year old sponge, longing to soak in different experiences,  ready to launch from her comfort zone- again.  Other friends had volunteered for Americorps' St Bernard Project restoring houses post- Katrina, and that sounded like the ticket for her.

Now Paris is off to New Orleans to live in a city she has never visited, to work with her hands without any construction experience,  and to meet people who are actively trying to make a difference.  (Being able to soak in all the music and culture New Orleans  has to offer is also a definite plus.)  In the spirit of true romance, she did not fly, but took a somewhat grueling 24 hour train ride to her new life, taking in the American South from a ground level window and coping with bathrooms she'd rather not see again. Some might question her mode of transportation, but Paris Achenbach will be the first one to tell you, she has the rest of her life to be comfortable. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Tactical Holiday Hints

Holidays can be the best of times and the worst to borrow from Chaz. Dickens. I heard a great tip on the radio this morning which was to employ the same tactics used by hostage negotiators when confronted with tension at the table. Also a friend of mine told me about "fall back" behavior the other day, and it's helpful to be on the lookout fo this pattern of behavior. As he explained it, this psychological phenomenon occurs when usually rational people are under stress. Please allow me to illustrate with a little story. ( fictional, of course) (well, based loosely on random factual type stuff as as all fiction is).

Let's just say you are trying to get a hot turkey dinner, and all the trimmings together for 15 people who are about to walk in the door. You've been baking, cooking, stirring and spilling stuff for hours, but the fruits of your endeavors are coming together and about to land on the table with operatic precision.

Then your eye spots something amiss.

You ask your child to remove their shoes (and balled up socks if it's a boy) from the dining room. (One sock being on the table if  you have more than one boy.)

"In a minute." comes the reply.

Just then the dog throws up and the smoke detector goes off with unrelated fury.

"Get your socks and get a bucket, too. " You say dashing towards the oven.

"Why me?" says the kid.

Suddenly you are out on the back deck, alone, nursing that bottle of wine you were going to serve with dinner and relishing the solitude. This might be considered "fall back behavior."

If you are looking for an outlet from this kind of holiday fervor- or simply a reward for a job well done, you know me, I 'm going to suggest music. Yes, "music which hath charms to soothe a savage breast." ( yes, breast according to William Congreve.)

Music at home can be great in a pinch. I just found out Jimi Hendrix would have been 72 today thanks to WPFW, and  cranking the radio up in the car after dropping off my kids at their dad's felt wonderful. (definitely "fall back" behavior)

But let's get to the one of kind thing known as a live show. On Thanksgiving itself, you can head over to JVs for Dave Chappell, Andy Poxon and crew. Friday night, Valentine Slim will be holding forth at Takoma VFW; the Nighthawks and Skip Castro are at the State Theater.

Last but certainly not least on Saturday-look for the King Soul extravaganza with the Hardway Connection at Bethesda Blues and Jazz.

 If you can fall back with friends to catch you,  you've got something to be thankful for indeed.
Hang in there everybody.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Once Upon A Time

O all you people who love to harken back. Back when the crux of Wisconsin and Western Avenues was known as the District Line and was where, if you were lucky,  your mother might have taken you to get a party dress or a winter coat. Who would have believed that Woodward and Lothrop, one of the bastions of the Washington Shopping Plate, and seemingly as permanent as the Capital itself would go the way of the dinosaur?


ALL of those local department local stores are gone. Dang.

A few years ago massive renovations of the District Line into something akin to Rodeo Drive left me out in the cold. I never go there anymore except when driving through on my way to Magruder's. One exception? I will go to the basement of Clyde's in Chevy Chase. (the "new" one which is almost 20 years old) This Saturday vintage rock will be brought to you by many a Whitman grad in The Vi-Kings, a band who shares my fondness for things gone by.
No cover!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Herndon Meets Squeeze Box

Hey you, Herndonites. Little Red and the Renegades will be rolling your way via the Ice House Cafe and Oyster Bar this Friday night. This might be a haul for denizens of DC, but you all in the Northern climes of the Old Dominion ought to be able to find your way there. Support your scene, Virginia!
A full bar and free music rocks.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hey You Kids

These days movies about the harDCore local scene like "Salad Days: The DC Punk Revolution" and "Punk the Capital" are popping up like a fairy ring of mushrooms around the Beltway. One such film- "Positive Force: More Than a Witness" will be screening this weekend at St Stephen's with all proceeds going to inner city seniors- a positive thing indeed.

While reliving the past is a comfortable and sometimes wonderful place to be, we've still got music being made here and now: live and loud and in person. We've got active musicians that inspired the scene and, by the way, are kind of close to being seniors themselves. These people go back. Way back. Before Fugazi back. Just last week it was the Beatnik Flies show at the Quarry House and Marshall Keith and friends up at the mill. This Friday it'll be right here in town. John Stabb and the aptly named History Repeated will be kicking the line up with 7 Door Sedan, Spidercake and much more at Union Arts DC.

Please support this living thing we call music.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ubangi Slickee Yacht Flies On the Loose this Weekend

Beware there is no sign for the Quarry House, but somehow people follow the clarion call to this basement den of iniquity where there is a plentitude of good beer, bourbon and music.The show this Saturday night featuring The Beatnik Flies and The Yachtsmen will indeed be a wild and wooly one, and the ONLY place to be for all Beatnik Flies, Yachtsmen. (and Slickee Boy fans)

Unless, of course,  you are up at the happening at the Hyattstown Mill with the Ubangis and Marshall Keith.

(Two places at once would work for me.)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Upside Down DC Politics As Usual

The DC voter's guide came out in a timely fashion this year full of helpful information as usual. What was unusual was the DC flag was printed upside down. 


Even funnier was the short lived attempt to claim it was done on purpose "to engage the voter." That was soon followed by full admission that this was just what it was- a big boo-boo. 
(So DC as we like to say here.)

Anyway you look at it, DC politics often turn this town upside down. Stories about council spats, scandals, and misappropriated funds often make national headlines. Marion Barry, the once and future godfather of chocolate city, can always be relied upon to keep things real, but sometimes he makes the news without even trying.
Even without his honor running this year, our mayoral race is turning out to be anything but dull. What should have been an easy win for Muriel Bowser has turned into something of a political nightmare for her thanks to David Catania and Carol "the phoenix" Schwartz who has risen again after a long hiatus. WAMU held a lively forum back in October which might be one of my favorite debates ever. All three candidates involved came into the ring swinging with gloves off. If you are still on the fence, you might want to take a listen.

Washington might be besieged with some of  the worst traffic and is in third place for the most rats in the nation, but  I am happily astounded by how progressive our city has become about embracing personal freedoms such as gay marriage and loosening penalties for marijuana. It's also good to see the uptick in bicycle and river traffic- canoes and crews and kayaks everywhere. (I can remember a time when the Potomac was so polluted, we were told not to go near the water.)

Whatever your view point- please get out out on Tuesday and let it be known. We are the ones that make this city what it is- as much as we can without representation in Congress- but we are also the only ones who can change that. The best way to rock DC is to vote.