Friday, November 27, 2015

Post Dinner Wingdings

Suffering from the nimiety of Thursday? Want to shake your tail feathers?  The fellows of Goin' Goin' Gone and King Soul will be all over that dance mission this Saturday night - one in Bethesda and the other Takoma Park on opposite sides of  that Red Line horseshoe. All you have to do is show up with a little bread and dances in your head.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thinking Thanksgiving

My most prevalent Thanksgiving memory might be one of my mother sighing in the kitchen while my father, un-showered and unshaven, a leaf blower strapped to his back is still buzzing around the patio just fifteen minutes before fifty or so Greek family members arrive at 5 p.m. sharp.

My craziest Thanksgiving weekend? The year my little cousins from Florida put ice in all the water glasses thus spreading a virulent and somewhat violent stomach flu throughout the family. This became apparent on Saturday when we all staggered into St Sophia's for my daughter's christening-valiantly setting forth unaware that every other one of us was as green as the next guy. At the after party back at my parents' house, my father was found sleeping underneath a pile of coats left on his bed. Probably best that I don't add a picture here.

My Thanksgiving song. "Alice's Restaurant." Anyone who grew up with WHFS knew to tune the radio in on Thanksgiving Day for Arlo Guthrie's version of just what happened to him "two Thanksgiving ago or two years ago on Thanksgiving," not at Alice's restaurant because that's not where Alice lives, but at the church nearby the restaurant where she lives with her husband Ray and Facha, the dog. This year, by the by,  marks the fiftieth anniversary of "Blind Justice."

Thanksgiving movie. Barry Levinson's "Avalon." One of my favorites, and quite possibly one of the most beautiful movies ever made about life here in these United States. Lesson learned? Don't cut the turkey without Uncle Gabriel.

Best thanksgiving dinner. ( Besides my mother's real in-the-bird stuffing that she hid in the kitchen, and my dad's free samples delivered by greasy fingers right from the bird and into your mouth )
One I won't have- my friend Paul's making turducken up in Maine today where it's a balmy 40 degrees in Bangor. And this one: Turkey, Oysters and Southern Maryland Stuffed Ham served up by my niece and her husband in Plum Point, Maryland, hopefully later today.
Happy Thanksgiving and much love to my friends and family near and far.

Friday, November 20, 2015

La Ville Lumiere

Paris.... The city of lights. Possibly named so because Louis the IV ordered his streets to be well lit, or maybe because it was one of the first cities to have gas lamps. Still others think the moniker dates back to all those big idea dudes like Voltaire and Rousseau. For me, it's the town where my waaaay back childhood friend, Karen lives.

Although my hopelessly romantic side longs to revert to the Jazz Age so I could booze around with Scotty and Zelda, present day me was a very happy camper last summer when Karen's husband Andy kindly took us to a former road along the Seine which was closed forever in favor of picnics. After watching the sunset with a decent little bottle of wine, we walked home past the Eiffel Tower lit up like a Christmas tree, tricked out with light and laser beams as it is most evenings.

To top it off, a wild little light show takes place close to midnight. The whole thing shimmers for about ten minutes like a giant sparkler on the Fourth of July. We could see the spectacle if we looked straight up through a tree in Karen and Andy's back yard.

When the news hit on Friday,  my first worries were allayed when a sleep deprived Karen shot me an email late on that dark night telling me that she and her family were safe. Karen sent me this picture last Saturday.

Aside from my friend, I feel a kind of kinship with Paris.  I've experienced the vista from Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower which beat out the Washington monument for man made height in 1888. Between the river and the bridges, I see the inspiration for Washington. Having lived through the 9/11 attacks, I remember the eerie quiet of that otherwise beautiful September day when no air traffic except fighter jets ripped through our blue skies, and everyone but the residents left town for weeks on end. Our hearts were full of pain... and dread. Last weekend I wondered what would happen next in Paris? Would things shut down? Would children go back to school?

Here's what a Parisian father ( caught on video) said to his three year old son who was wondering if they would have to leave Paris to be safe:

Father: "Don't worry … We don't need to move out. France is our home," Angel tells Brandon in the video.
Brandon: "But there's bad guys, Dad."
Father: "Yes, but there are bad guys everywhere."
Brandon: "They have guns, they can shoot us because they are really mean, Daddy."
Father: "It's ok, they might have guns, but we have flowers," Angel tells Brandon.
"They have guns; we have flowers." As all the politics swirl around this event, this is the quote that struck me the most. How every day people pick up their lives after such a traumatic event. For Paris, as for us in Washington, the pain and anxiety will remain fresh for far too long, but the official mourning lasted only three days. People did go back to work. Kids went back to school. This is the picture Karen sent me on Monday- taken on the way home after picking her son up from orchestra practice:

Lights. Flowers. Candles.
We do our best as humans to light the darkness which sometimes we bring upon ourselves.  We continue the struggle to learn to live together on a scale big and small. Le vivre ensemble. Be patient with that idiot who just cut you off on the Beltway. You never know when a small kindness might make a huge difference.  Might create a revolution

Lumiere. Les fleurs. Les bougies.  Vive la France.
And Happy Birthday, Karen.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Ruckus in the Rumpus Room

Do you remember the first Clyde's down in Georgetown?  It once was an unpretentious little place for a burger and a beer. Legend has it, this is where Bill Danoff, inspired by the happy hour menu, penned that tenacious ear worm of a tune "Afternoon Delight."

In 1995 Clyde's opened another location- this time distinctly more upscale and uptown in Chevy Chase. Ten years later when upscale upgraded itself,  Clyde's (and Giant) held their own as that stretch of Wisconsin Avenue was transformed into Rodeo Drive.  Upstairs there's still a really nice restaurant with a model train making the rounds, but down in the basement where the transportation theme continues,  the bar is humming, and the music is free.  (And on Fridays, there's a second happy hour at 10 p.m. Honk!)

This weekend the Watt Brothers will rock this space on Friday and The Beat Hotel hit it on Saturday. Both bands guaranteed to breathe life into an other wise dull part of town.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Washington's True Colors

Last post I pondered the angst causing angle of sunlight these Autumn days, but this time, due to our possibly politically incorrect Indian Summer, Washington will be shining its "True Colors." Even though the days are hair-wrenchingly shorter than last week, the weather will rock with unseasonably warm temperatures and sunny skies.

(photo by Roger Cokinos)
I wish I had out of town guests. Then I'd have an excuse to walk the C and O, or check out the view from either Fred Douglass' or Bobby Lee's front porches for technicolor tableaus of our swinging metropolis.  Another place I like to take people is the Claude Moore Farm where you can gin up the time machine and head back to 1771 for a hang with the tenant farmers. It's a bit like a really poor man's Williamsburg. (Double bonus? Spying on the cloak and dagger folks jogging behind the fence at the CIA.)

(Photo/ DC Rocks)

The final field trip would be to JV's in Outer Mongolia. Actually this bastion of "ageless charm without yuppie bastardization" is just down the road from Falls Church proper, but if you wander too far you will land in the cobweb of Seven Corners. Here our mediocre model of American Suburb runs amok, and is aptly symbolized by this monkey-gone-mental morass of an intersection so try and plan your route carefully.

Possible travel perils aside, JV's is worth the risk- nestled where it is on Route 50 in a small shopping center between the Goodwill and a decent Asian restaurant. But it's a perfect little live music venue with stage, dance floor and bar, a scene kept hopping by Lorraine Campbell for many a moon.

(photo by Gerald Martineau)
Thursday is my usual go-to night, and plenty of people are in the know already, but this weekend the Thrillbillys will be doing a rare Saturday evening appearance for all you week night shut-ins. Five dollar cover for an ass- kicking band.

(Photo By Gerald Martineau)