15 August 2008

Strut yer mutt, Civil-War style

Local nonprofit Cultural Tourism DC has been busy...

Their latest effort is the Brightwood Heritage Trail, which will be unveiled in a public ceremony at 10am tomorrow. Following that will be the inaugural stroll, with some entertaining pitstops along the way: Civil War re-enactors will be on hand to answer questions and maybe terrorize people with muskets (it turns out Brightwood was the site of DC's one Civil War battle), there will also be live jazz at Emory United Methodist Church (Quackenbos & Georgia, 11am), restaurants and businesses will provide free drinks & discounts, etc. It sounds like a fine time, and a great way to pick up on the stories behind our familiar streets.

Brightwood is a wee bit north of typical Intangible stomping-grounds, but it's close. (WONDER CHICKEN needs to do up some t-shirts...their sign and logo is friggin' sacred). The weather should be phenomenal: cooler, less humid. No excuses.

ALSO: We must not forget the MUTT STRUT. Starting at noon in front of Little Rascals at Georgia and Missouri, dogs (and their owners) are encouraged to do a bit of the stroll, after which Little Rascals will provide water & treats for the beasts.

The Brightwood Heritage Trail includes 18 illustrated signposts in a winding route from 14th and Kennedy to Georgia Avenue and Peabody Street. Cultural Tourism DC's project director informs me that Columbia Heights is due for a Heritage Trail as well; we'll have to wait about a year for that one. A total of seventeen such trails are planned, the next one being Deanwood.

So stay tuned, intrepid local history buffs. In the meantime, check CTDC for details on Saturday's festivities here.

[photo: a much younger Gomez, totally refusing to 'strut' down 18th street after getting the Cold Thermometer treatment at the vet.]

12 August 2008

Sonic Circuits benefit II

The Sonic Circuits festival of experimental music looms ever closer. Hear that rumbling in the distance? It's the sound of unique, artful, compelling, unexpected music. The perfect antidote to formula entertainment.

As reported earlier, a series of benefit shows has been launched to help defray the cost of this mighty thing. The second benefit is coming up soon, at the Pyramid Atlantic art space in Silver Spring. Click the flyer for larger version. Further details below, courtesy of the festival curator:


Sunday, August 24
Doors 6:30pm Music 7:00pm SHARP
admission: $5.00 at the door

8230 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring MD 20910
located three blocks south of the silver spring metro station (red line)
INFO + DIRECTIONS: www.pyramidatlanticartcenter.org

Arthur Harrison is the president and CEO of Harrison Instruments, Inc., a Maryland-based company that designs and manufactures electronics for a wide range of applications, including electronic musical instruments. Arthur has over 30 years of experience with electronic music, and has performed on theremin for a decade. His work appears on numerous audio recordings and sound tracks, and he is considered one of the world's technical authorities on the theremin, with his circuit designs implemented by electronic music enthusiasts, world-over.

barsky / allison
From Insect Factory & Kohoutek on guitar and custom electronics

Analog sound generations with struck bowls, rainsticks, wind instruments and guitars processed through racks of loopers/fx -- an otherworldly ambience that's difficult to describe; once heard, difficult to forget. (http://www.myspace.com/tazook) Think: music from a temple in an extraterrestrial dream, emanating from the aether and enveloping you in some indescribable way.

[flyer design IntangibleArts]

07 August 2008

WASA Big Idea? Part 4

Get the backstory: Part One here, Part Two here. Part Three here.

This could be the final installment in the gripping WASA saga unless something INSANE happens. But for now, just a post-op report.

It's been a couple of weeks since WASA's Plumbing Berserker perforated a bowel and caused much yelling en espaƱol (see part three for details). Since then, nothing has exploded, we haven't died from lead poisoning, and everything seems wonderful. Our tap water doesn't taste like the distilled tears of Heaven's purest angels or anything, but then, we'd have to move to Juneau to get that.

(Alaska Tourist Bureau, that'll be $500 please)

One good thing about WASA's finish is the full re-patch in the sidewalk (photo above), where they had chipped away the cement to access the public water meter. Some similar WASA action must have happened years ago, since that area of sidewalk was broken away and infested with weeds and ugliness when we moved in. It's good to see the lads cleaning up after themselves this time.

As previously reported, they are laying new grass seed in front yards where the test-pits were dug. They're also seeding the turf on the public side around the meter (note the odd protective blondie-fiber wig thing in top photo). So by summer's end, the street might actually look decent.

And there's real actual living grass popping up. Hooray for the little green people.

Early on, there was some concern about our retaining walls but as far as I can tell, no damage was done. Several of our neighbors' walls have been leaning and bulging precariously for years. Ours is no worse than before.

BUT, one huge fix remains: Our block is now riddled with about a dozen exposed concrete pits in the street, where the steel plates had been. It makes driving that block something of an ugly obstacle course. If the job is truly done, could we please have a fresh skin of asphalt? Pleeeez? WASA? DOT? Dept. of Public Works? Somebody?

Admittedly, part of me wants them to keep the pitted street as-is: it's done a great job of slowing down the speed-freaks (I'm looking at you, bastard-faced Maryland licence plates heading out to PG County during afternoon rush at about fifteen million miles per hour).

Anyway: Now, the war-zone has moved on and WASA is busy turning the 700 block of Irving Street NW into a noisy cloud of dust. Good luck, neighbors. All is not lost. Just watch them suckers if they need to do the job in your basement. Have towels handy.

05 August 2008

SpaceTime Continuum no.2

Malcolm X Park (Meridian Hill), Washington DC
Sunday 3aug08, 4:10pm. 90 seconds.

04 August 2008

Truth in advertising

I was blown away by this little bit of decorating a while ago; just now getting around to documenting it.

So here we have a detail scene inside our friendly neighborhood boozer Wonderland, with their gorgeous new addition to the decor.

That old wedge of neon spent ages commanding the corner of 11th and Park like a proud figurehead on the prow of a rum-soaked viking ship. The old liquor store has been dead for a long time and is set for demolition as part of the whole Bi-Rite market rehab.

As reference, this was it six months ago:

And now it joins the rest of the goodies in the Wonderland. They've got a great collection of DC relics in there; signs from long-dead shops and countless bits of random weirdness. I would have loved to witness them trying to mount that sucker on the ceiling.

Always a fan of the old signage. Glad to see it will outlive its old home...

31 July 2008

Drool, Britannia!

When the missus turned forty, we celebrated with a cruise through Alaska's Inside Passage (See the reportage here, from the earliest days of this tired old blog). We had a magnificent time breathing clean air, feasting on real salmon, and punting bald eagles like footballs off the rocky coast of Sitka...

Her challenge to me was: When my own 40th birthday comes, I should have a trip in mind: She gets one, I get one. Fair enough, and the choice was simple.

So despite our plummeting economy, our worthless American dollar, and the insane cost of oil/gas and air travel, it's still London calling.

I've been fascinated by England ever since I was a pup, for a variety of reasons. There was the infectious enthusiasm of my dad's preaching about family pride and English heritage, for one thing.

"Family Pride"!?!? Never mind the genetic side-trip that the family took into Maryland Native American bloodlines, and it wasn't that long ago. Was it really a dark family secret, or just long forgotten? Because it was quite a meaningful thing to discover. Eastern Woodlands indigenous blood understands the world like caucasian blood never will (read Maurice Kenny's poetry for evidence). And it explained a lot about the look of his side of the family, and of my grandfather's uncanny sense of reality. Behind his stoic face, the man just KNEW what the hell was going on, down to the freaking MOLECULES.

But anyway:

So there was the Heritage head-trip, but WETA was also working on my psyche during childhood: It was my mother's Zenith TV with its late-'60s ivory and turquoise-colored plastic and the knobs that pulled off easily and if memory serves, it only got Channel 26 (WETA, DC's public TV station), which meant that most of my viewing consisted of Sesame Street and BBC reruns. Thus, I spent many days sitting on the floor in front of that glass eyeball, absorbing the culture of England from a small apartment on Viers Mill Road in Rockville, Maryland...

Then later on, there was that dreadfully awesome, unrequited obsession with Diana Rigg's Emma Peel character in The Avengers... Holy Bouncing Hell, I thought, I simply MUST visit this island nation which gifted us with this leather-clad, karate-chopping goddess...

Fast-forward to 2008. The old Zenith is history and Diana Rigg never returned any of my (unreal) phone calls.

Side note: Rigg turned 70 last week, and is still kicking, according to wiki, on the theater stages of England. Bravo.

And we still have this 40th birthday trip of mine to figure out.

Truly, if it wasn't for our friend and his London-based fiancee offering us their good company and a place to sleep, we'd never afford this. Therefore I can say with ironic glee that I, for one, WILL be spending my "economic stimulus package" -- just not the way the President intended.

Yep. Me and my "stimulus package" are gonna go "stimulate" a foreign economy. Seriously, Dubya: if you wanted the money to be SPENT (not stashed away in savings), and spent domestically, you should have handed out Best Buy coupons or something.

No matter!

We'll happily do a few tourist things (ICA, Tate Modern, Tower of London, the Eye) but my big interest is in the true, everyday urban reality of London. I'm sure this is due to living in DC, another capital city where we're fond of complaining about slow-moving, mouth-breathing tourists clogging the Metro and making life generally miserable.

Only some of that tourist-bashing is fair, I'll admit. But it means I've become acutely aware of my own potential tourist-ness and will strive to remain blissfully invisible.

So like, any suggestions?

I'm making lists of the alleged BEST PUBS, RECORD STORES, and CURRY HOUSES in London. That would be the Intangible Arts Holy Trinity of any travel destination: pubs, vinyl, and curry. There will be side-trips to Newcastle and Edinburgh, so the Trinity Search also applies there.

As far as record stores go, it seems London's West End favorite Sister Ray is possibly shutting down, which is terrible news, since I was planning to "stimulate" a bit of economy in there as well. We might also catch an Arsenal match if we can wedge it in, and see how the game is played in the Motherland (no disrespect to DC United, I'm with you all the way)...

Eh. Much to absorb. But any recommendations in the comments would be cherished with gratitude.

[photo: outside the Burberry's shop on Connecticut Avenue, Washington DC 31july08]