Wednesday, January 27, 2016

You Do the Aftermath

It's been 5 days since the snow storm struck.
Four days of drinking tea. (and stronger brews)
Three snow days for DCPS.
Two of my bus routes not running.
One car dug out.

The mathematics of a major snowstorm in Washington equals.... a beautiful head ache.

It sure was pretty coming down. Exciting, too. My neighbor Doug broke out his home made Apple jack, and it was well worth the trek through the blizzard to sample his home brew by a wood stove. And so we hunkered down comfortably enough, waiting for the end game. And that's when everything went haywire.

We the People, or make that We the Entitled People seem to expect food back on shelves, parking places cleared, and slow pokes to get out of the way as soon as that last snow flake lands. There was a pause, yes, and then it was Monday. Major DC streets were impassable or reduced to one lane. Snow mountains at intersections made crossing streets a game of blind man's bluff for both pedestrians and drivers. My neighbors emerged for the big dig, only to have their efforts thwarted by snow plows plugging cars back into their igloos.

I finally ventured out yesterday. I know there are wonderful people out there digging out neighbors, but once our species gets behind the wheel, a different animal emerges. (You guys hanging out at the back door of the liquor store- I saw you throw a snowball at the SUV tearing up the block. Thank you.)

For unfathomable reasons the grand plaza in front of my Safeway was completely clear, except for the bus stop. Of course the D6 was not running yet, but wouldn't you think a potential Safeway customer might pop off when it is? Inside the Safeway don't even think about looking for a tomato. Or lettuce. Or  produce. But it's wintertime So be it.

 Things got weirder today. Not one but two backhoes and several dump trucks showed up to push the snow into huge and piles AND Take It Away. Wait?  What?  I've been here through storms when this dead end street was left unplowed, and we were left for dead. But rumor has it that a Very Important Person must live nearby now because we have never seen anything like this. Wow. You couldn't see the street yesterday. Now our feet wouldn't even get wet. Go figure.

What is most frustrating is when DCPS announces triumphantly that schools are open, yet my son can't catch the bus which declares it is coming on an app then "disappears" and never arrives. For over an hour. Or when commerce takes precedence over safety. No wonder people go crazy in cars.

With the impending warming trend, things might- just might- be back to normal by the weekend for everyone (no matter who lives on your block.)  Please check DC ROCKS' calendar to alleviate that cabin fever which includes Little Red for all of you that can't make Mardi Gras this year. True confession. This correspondent will be skipping town to catch a little early carnival action. Not that I don't love my home town, but there's a King cake down South calling my name...and no chance of snow.

New Orleans 1936 by Walker Evans

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Snowed In

Last Wednesday's evening rush hour scene was a freakish disaster due to snow melting under tires, then refreezing. The result? Our streets became bumper car pavilions from H Street to Springfield. This weekend, however, we had plenty of notice to hunker down as our lives are brought to an involuntary standstill, and Mother Nature reminds us exactly who is in charge.

But these memorable snow events don't come along very often. Some time in the early 1960s, my uncle bought a house near Swain's Lock out River Road from either Chet Huntley or David Brinkley. The snow that year was so deep, it scared that correspondent back to town.

But then there were years and years when we scarcely got a snow day, and when I was in school, I LIVED for those rare and wonderful days off. Even scarcer was a day off from college, but in February 1979 we got hit hard again. My house mate and ace photographer Alan Kresse went out with his camera as soon as it stopped snowing and captured a little known historic event in College Park - The Student Takeover of Route One:

And then, of course, came Snowmageddon. Those back to back storms gave me the excuse to make buckwheat pancakes for dinner a la Almanzo Wilder in The Long Winter.

This time it looks like an awful lot of digging is in store, and school may or may not be open on Monday, but don't forget people - we have skills: hot milk and chocolate, marshmallows, Irish coffee, fire places. And who thought up indoor heat? That was a good one.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Star Man

The news Monday of David Bowie's transfiguration hit hard- especially for those of us "of a certain age." He was such a cool guy; he didn't want us to worry, but I doubt he realized how soul wrenching his death would be and how unexpected- like a comet crashing in the back yard.  All day I heard the stories on NPR... That he was a musician mostly because he was a failed artist, and he learned early on that girls would look at him if he just opened his mouth and sang. Laughing in an old interview, he mentioned he must have ADD because he was always onto the next project. That he didn't really like performing; he quickly grew bored doing the same songs over and over.

The one story I didn't hear was that the "Man Who Fell to Earth" once landed, strangely enough,  in our own back yard on a couch in Silver Spring, Maryland. That's right. His very first trip to America was to Washington D.C. Not on tour, mind you, but before all that... At a rock forum a few years ago hosted by Jeff Krulik, I heard another local treasure, journalist Michael Oberman tell the story.

I heard simply this: that when David came for a visit, Michael and his buddies had to entertain this weird kid from England... Sound a little far fetched? Except there's this Kodak moment. That's Michael waving. (The "real" story has been updated on Michael's FB page here.)

Hard to believe this man we knew as David Bowie could be so down to earth. Seemed like he always had one foot in the sky, and while he was here, he was constantly challenging the norm. I heard Chris Hadfield on the radio late last night while I was doing laundry. (Yeah, I'm one of those people with radios on all over the house.)  Chris is the Canadian astronaut that recorded Space Oddity in the freaking Space Station no less. And David Bowie loved it.  In an interview yesterday, Chris pointed out how the song captured not the excitement of the moon launch which the whole world was buzzing about that summer of 1969, but just how excruciatingly lonely it would feel to be the only human being "floating in a tin can, far above the world."

It is hard to say good bye to a comet.  A man who shared his light with everyone - especially those of us who felt a little bit lost and out of place at school, at church or even at home. He was our hero, he was our rebel; he was a gas.  All of us Earth oddities wandering this planet together will dearly miss the man who brought us Ziggy, Major Tom and "All the Young Dudes." He is on to the next thing now, but wherever he is, I hope he's not alone. I hope he has found a place among the stars where he belongs.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Carnival Time

January Sixth is King's Day or Epiphany- the Greek word for "reveal." In Christianity this date marks the day the three wise men made the trek to Bethlehem, got a load of that baby Jesus and realized he was a divine kind of little cat. In some parts of the world, this is also the first day of the carnival season which means there's absolutely no point whatsoever in going on that post-holiday diet.  King cakes are already on the shelves of New Orleans grocery stores; parades and parties started on Wednesday, and there's even a web site counting up all the events and counting down the seconds  until Fat Tuesday. (As I write it's 32 days, 14 hours, 45 minutes and never mind the seconds)

 In Washington, we only make a side swipe at celebrating the season, but Little Red and the Renegades will be at Haydee's this Friday night to kick our town into the spirit. 9 p.m. No cover!

On Saturday night the folks of Goin Goin Gone are back at Hank Dietles- the new headquarters of the Quarry House's music scene. We sure miss the bourbon and beer list at Quarry House, but this little joint has a little more dance room and just as much character. Check it out- no cover...again!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Once and Future 9:30 Club

The 9:30 Club kicked off the New Year last night with an impressive anniversary event looking back on 35 years- 20 in the current location and 15 on F Street. Wow. Just let those numbers sink in for a minute. I was in school the first time I walked into that old rock hole. We'd driven down in a Ford Falcon station wagon full of housemates on a drug induced field trip from College Park. The old location now houses a J. Crew, something none of us could imagine happening back then when there were peep shows and wig shops, and the rats outnumbered people on the street at night.

For those of you who wrangled a free ticket for the "9:30 World's Fair," expect a virtual walk through time starting with the original F Street back bar downstairs where sometime in the now hazy 1980s, I met so many people who would make an impact on my life including the man who would become my husband, bar manager Mark Hall, as well as the late Mark Holmes whose artwork is on the walls, and Slickee Boys' Mark Noone, the "Cal Ripken" of the 9:30 Club, he has performed on its stages a whopping 90 times.

Appropriately a squashed F Street rat from Alec MacKaye's collection is featured in a case on the bar, but here is a picture from 1990 when Mikey O and Mark ran a tight ship- at least I never saw a rat in the bar itself.

The tour takes you all over the club which has been transformed into a multi media museum of sorts full of video screens and memorabilia collections- sometimes a bit overwhelming in a Vietnam Wall sort of way, but a tremendous amount of work went into the archives and displays. You can go all the way up to the dressing room, or you can walk onto Mark Noone's stage where a virtual crowd gives you that secret thrill of being a rock star.

If you weren't able to get a ticket, a lot of the hoopla is captured in a new book 9:30: A Time and A Place available on the web site. Congratulations Dody, Seth and Rich, and thank you and all the 9:30 family for giving DC so much music and so many crazy fun memories.