Archive for events

Burning Man 2009

So I got my tickets for Burning Man today. My knowledge of what goes on is sort of shady. The recommendation that stands out the most in my mind is the description I got from a Burner in DC.

“Imagine that you wake up and you ask yourself, ‘What do I most want to do today?’ Then you do that. That is Burning Man.”

Everyone comes to Burning Man with creations of various sorts directed by a central theme. The theme for 2009 is right down my alley: the evolution of man.

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For Great Justice, Take Off Every Zig

I sent a few hours this morning wandering around the United for Peace and Justice rally and march. It was entertaining to see the varieties of different people that were out in opposition to the war. There were guitar playing hippies that were likely on the Mall 40 years ago protesting Vietnam. Black-clad anarchist teenagers with their faces covered, waving somehow angry looking flags. The hip-hop contingent holding a freestyle competition with an anti-war theme. A troupe of very peppy young girls dressed all in red who danced and sung their way through the crowd.

Unfortunately the camera that I recently stole only has it’s default 512mb card, so I wasn’t able to take many pictures. I did get a couple though.


Dancers

These were the cheerful dancing ladies in red. I had hoped to see a meeting between them and the 20 or so pro-war demonstrators, but the police had those folks cordoned off. Probably best given the invectives that were being bandied about.


Signage

It wouldn’t be a demonstration without signs. I thought mine was entertaining, but nothing like Ben’s “Another Porn Star Against the War”


Free Hugs

Ben availed himself frequently of the free love being offered. This particular fellow visited everyone in our group and saw that we all got a little action.


The Crowd

There were quite a few people out, but it was hard to get a sense of the size since they were spread over five or six blocks of the Mall.


When the Saints Go Marching

Once the march around the Capitol started though, you got a sense of the enormity. This is the beginning of the funnel and there were about this many people walking by continually for an hour. The only real number that I’ve seen so far is “less than 100,000.”

It was interesting how everyone was there to join in a common cause, but there were still lots of behaviors to establish an individual identity in the crowd. I liked it because as much as it made it a unified statement to some external group, it was an entertaining spectacle for the folks participating. I also realized a certain reluctance on my part to really join in. I’m still doing a pretty jaded bit. I think it really started to set in with the re-election of Bush. The starving African children and more recent gay-marriage bans have helped keep it in place. Do many of the rest of you feel fundamentally out of touch with the pulse of the American populace? There were lots of people chanting “This is what democracy looks like” today. I wish that I believed that.

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Lear

For those in DC, the performance of King Lear by the Classical Theatre of Harlem at the Folger Theatre is an evening well-spent.

I was only vaguely familiar with the story and André De Shields performance as Lear really helped draw me into the story. It is frequently difficult to deliver Shakespeare without it seeming performed. I thought that De Shields did a good job of effectively conveying emotion into a very complex character. My favorite though was Ty Jones as Edmund. The emotional depth of the character is more limited, but what there was he swam in. I really enjoyed his relish at being bad. ☺

Alfred Pressier’s interpretation of the play was a little non-traditional. The costuming was more Middle Eastern than the little bit I remember from the bits Lawrence Olivier’s performance I saw years ago. The most striking aspect though was the energy and physical presence of the performers. The entire cast moves with a sense of power that I am more accustomed to seeing in Cirque du Soleil than in Shakespeare. The athleticism of the actors was readily apparent as the jumped and climbed and fought their way through the play.

I think that some might be set off by the level of energy and pace of the show. I liked both it and Pressier’s use of a set of moving risers to alter the set through the course of the performance.

I also spent some time discussing the “complete misrepresentation” of McK’s views in my post yesterday with her shortly before I went to the play. As such, issues of race were still playing in my mind as I watched this predominantly black troupe. The most prominent white actor was Danny Camiel as the cuckolded and dominated Duke of Albany. I thought it was also interesting that with the deaths of Lear, Regan, Goneril, Cordelia, Cornwall and Gloucester; he will likely be the one to end up owning most everything. ☺

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DC Life

I’ve been wandering our nation’s capitol for almost a year now. I’ve gone to some of the museums and monuments, and I’ve definitely seen my share of bars and restaurants. Last Tuesday, I got to take part in another part of the DC life: the political rally.

My evening began rolling sushi at a little MPP get-together. It is definitely the way to go with sushi. Normally I get five or six yummy little rolls and they are all too soon gone. When you are rolling your own you can stick all kinds of treats in them and make mounds of sushi.

It was interesting because I was talking to someone about food and started going on about how excited I was for my upcoming lunch at Fogo de Chão. I went on for a couple minutes about how amazing fifteen different types of flame seared meats was going to be before I realized it had gotten quieter. It was then that I remembered that I work for the weed people. In the room of twenty people I was one of three omnivores. It was all good though since that left more of the salmon and cream cheese for me which was so delicious as to nearly cause me to lose control of my bodily functions.

From the MPP party, I headed over to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee party. McK scored us tickets through a friend and it was a sight to behold. Just walking through the door the smell of politics was thick in the air. There were lots of important people milling about and even more people looking to make their acquaintance. The schmoozing was thick enough to cut it with a knife.

My creative team is still working on our business cards and I was already a bit lit, so I wasn’t looking to get my schmooze on. I just enjoyed the live band, open bars and hollering whenever a new seat would be called for the Dems. I doubt that I could have spent the evening with a happier bunch of people. When Pelosi got up to give her speech people I saw people crying.

It was a really fun evening and I got a cute little donkey pin for my lapel.

Things at MPP were a little less jubilant the next day. They lost both the South Dakota and Nevada campaigns. It was unfortunate. We knew things were going to be close, but I’d hoped that things would work out. There were a variety of local initiatives that passed. It’s something at least.

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Meats!

Yesterday, in early celebration of my birthday several of us went out to Fogo de Chão. It was sumptuous.

The basic idea for the restaurant is there are men wandering the floor at all times bearing skewers of freshly fire seared meats. They purport to have fifteen different sorts, but the ones I saw were:

  • Filet Mignon – tenderloin wrapped in bacon
  • Costela – beef ribs
  • Costela de Porco – pork ribs
  • Linguica – pork sausages
  • Beef Ancho – prime rib
  • Alcatra – top sirloin
  • Fraldilnha – bottom sirloin
  • Cordeiro – leg of lamb
  • Frango – chicken wrapped in bacon
  • Picanha – sirloin seasoned with sea salt and garlic

You have a little colored disc by your plate and you just flip it from red to green to send gauchos descending upon you to whack off a tasty chunk of meat. It was so good. The meats were wonderfully seasoned and so soft that I didn’t so much cut them as have them fall to pieces when I tried to cut them.

There’s also a huge salad bar, but I didn’t go to it until I’d already eaten about three platefuls of meat. There were some cheeses and whatnot, but few things that seemed worthy of depriving stomach space to more delectable meat. ☺

Also at the table there were cheesy mashed potatoes and some sort of little bread puff filled with cheese and fried plantains. The whole experience was amazing and I am really thankful to my friends for doing it with me.

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My First Kegstand

I’ve not been posting much as of late because my life has settled into an entertaining, but not terribly interesting routine. I work, go to the gym, party and sleep. That just about covers it. No new harrowing adventures to speak of.

This last weekend was more of the same, but it was fun and I’ve got pictures, so I thought I’d write about it a bit:

Friday

As a relatively recent arrival on the drunkard scene it has taken a concerted effort to achieve the amount of humiliation that I have in my short career. There are a few intricacies left to explore however. One of them being the staple of college binge drinking: the keg stand. As Friday was Kevin’s birthday, there seemed no better time to cross that off my list.

I’d never purchased a keg before. A little bit of research led me to Metro Ice here in DC. The costs associated with a keg are:

  • Yuengling Keg • $80 (+$10 deposit)
  • Tap Rental • $5 (+$50 deposit)
  • Tub Rental • $3 (+$20 deposit)
  • 120lbs Ice • $18

So all told, about $110 for 15.5 gallons of beer. At eight pints to the gallon that’s about $600 worth of beer in a bar. Even with people bringing bottles it was still half price. A keg of Killians, which is a better beer, was the same price, but they were sold out.

The party went well, I got to DJ which was fun. There were impromptu speeches, my favorite of which was likely Kevin’s impassioned reenactment of the final battle in Braveheart though Marc’s reading from Malcom X in a Samuel L. Jackson voice was a close second.

I did get to stand on my keg, as did everyone else there that night:

standing

The thing about keg standing isn’t the beer, it is the not breathing while standing on your head. This made me a little grumpy.

grumpy Will

Other highlights included a near deathmatch and K and I being seen on the same stage dancing to Get Low for the first time ever!

Saturday

Saturday was mostly devoted to recuperating until the evening when I headed out with McK to her friends’ for a birthday party. We went to dinner and then to see The Blue Show. This is the fourth improv group that I’ve been to see in DC and it was hands-down the best. It was a more adult show and though not completely vulgar, it definitely didn’t strive to avoid it.

Afterward we played some games and did some more drinking. It was here that I learned that, having alcoholics for friends has both developed and kept me from realizing a high tolerance. I tried to teach the group Celebrity but the game was called on account of one team passing out.

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Weekend

I need to take some time to write a bit. I’ve been really bad about recording anything about this new chapter in my life and I’m starting to regret it. I was cleaning my room today and I found a letter that I started to a friend back in Mauritania that starts with, “I had a really awesome time this weekend…” I didn’t finish the letter and I now have no clue either what weekend that was or what I might have been doing.

I’m just going all the time and when I have some time off I tend to veg out rather than being productive.

So, this weekend… I did the whole work thing on Friday. I’d just shown off the products of a program I’d been writing, and even though it still needs some work, I was a little burnt out on it so I spent most of the morning downloading Red versus Blue at the_archange1‘s suggestion. That is a pretty good way to kill a morning. ☺

That night I went out with my new girlfriend and some of her friends. (Well, not really new, our first date was at the beginning of February.) We went to the DC Improv and saw Louis CK. He was pretty funny. No Eddie Izzard, but funny.

They were headed out to Home which had a floor of Persian, a floor of Latin and a floor of Hip-Hop. I decided though to suck and so headed home for some sleep.

Part of why I needed my sleep is that since I’d not gone on the camping trip to Shenandoah this weekend, I was one of the few members of The Beltway Ballers left in town, and the interim captain. My discovery for the day was that the Washington Monument is really big and because it is really big it makes it look like the National Mall is short. It’s not. Not at all. It is definitely not a short jog to traverse. It is a sufficient distance to instill in an out of shape person a serious desire to either pass out or vomit, possibly both.

The kickball was awesome though. Everyone out there was mildly athletic so it wasn’t ubercompetitive, but it wasn’t boring either. The first inning of our first game the opposing team scored ten points, but after that we got it together and they only scored two for the rest of the game. Unfortunately we only really got our defense together and we only had one person even make it to third, so we lost pretty soundly. The next game though we won 2-0 and the final one 9-3. For our general lack of cohesion and coordination, we did pretty well.

I just really liked being out in the sunshine and running around. Everyone was really friendly and other than a couple people who I felt took the whole thing a little too seriously, a good time was had by all. Kevin and I had to hang out and ump a game and after that we headed to our sponsoring bar, The Bottom Line. 4:00 on a Sunday seemed a little early for drinking, but they had $3 pitchers of Miller Light, so what the hell.

The alcohol helped deaden the throbbing pain that was my lower extremities. I don’t yet own any tennis shoes, so I’d done my jog down the Mall and the kickball game wearing my hiking boots. I’m pretty sure this, the first physical activity I’ve done in the last nine months or so, would have kicked my ass regardless, but my feet in particular were beating out even my fucked up sciatic nerve as the most painful part of my body. That is no mean feat.

So I wandered back toward McKenzie’s after an unsuccessful attempt to buy shoes. (It was 6:00 by this point and everything closed.) I realized while on the train and I was feeling light headed that I wasn’t drunk, but baked to a crisp. My arms and face aren’t the pretty pink of a girl’s summer dress, but the deep red of a well-boiled lobster. Thankfully, McKenzie allowed me to pass out at her place despite reportedly smelling like a beer soaked sweat sock. Bless her heart. ☺

I have only vague memories of her giving me water every so often through the evening and poking fried tofu at me which I stuck in my mouth and apparently passed out without eating since it was still in there when I woke up in the morning. We lie about for a bit and then she headed off to the Darfur rally and I went home for cleaning and trying to will my flesh into being uncooked. (That doesn’t seem to do much unfortunately.) I do seem to be able to sort of hobble again without too much pain, so hopefully I’ll be able to make it to the office tomorrow.

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re: Karin

I had a really fun yesterday. It just about ran me into the ground, but such seems to be the hallmark of my times as of late.

Tai Shan

It started out with me sprinting to Union Station since I’d found it much more pleasant to lay about snuggling with McKenzie than hauling my ass out of bed. I managed to make it to meet up with Karin a mere ten minutes late. ☺ Cheetahs
After explaining about how the repairs on the red line had the schedule all messed up and forced me to be late, we headed on the the zoo.

The sun was shining. The clouds hung picturesquely in a bright blue sky. Birds were out singing and enjoying the mid-70’s temperatures. It was beautiful and a perfect day to be out. Unfortunately most all of DC had picked up on this as well and al least half of them had decided to go to the zoo as well.

It was a lot of fun hanging out with Karin. We discussed a variety of subjects Armadillo such as how good a panda skin rug would look in front of fireplace, how tender and delicious baby pandas likely are and the benefits of being reincarnated as a panda where your only job is to eat 40 pounds of bamboo a day and do fuck all. These were sparked by the zoo’s biggest star, the new baby panda, Tai Shan. We got our panda viewing tickets without any problem, but the pandas were all sleeping and not all that entertaining aside from their ever present cuteness.

Actually sleep turned out to be something of a theme. Pretty much any animal larger than a breadbox was unconscious. The notable exception were the orangutans. There are cables strung about 30 feet above the walkways at the zoo and the orangutans hold reign over these aerial byways. The same question occurred to Karin and myself simultaneously: a load of orangutan poopie falling 30 feet onto your head; emotionally scarring or funny anecdote?

The O-Line

Neither of us had eaten breakfast and so we breezed by the second half of the zoo and headed to Chinatown to find some lunch. We wandered about a bit trying to find a place that had food for less than $15 when we happened upon a little place called Tai Shan. Clearly this is where we were meant to be. golden They had $4.95 lunch specials: perfect. I asked the waitress if they had any panda and she said “no,” but when she brought me my “chicken” she gave me a little wink. Once I started eating I realized that my chicken wasn’t chicken! I know sweet and sour panda when I taste it. That or golden retriever; they’re similar tastes. ☺

The one thing that was unfortunately missing was bubble tea. Supposedly out in California these fruit based infusion teas with tapioca pearls in the bottom are so popular as to threaten Starbucks market. Fad chaser that I am, I just had to try this latest rage, but didn’t get the opportunity yesterday.

After lunch we headed back to Adams Morgan and went to Bedrock Billiards where Karin schooled me mercilessly in checkers. Along the way we saw some of the teams from the Idiotarod running about with their shopping carts. I definitely want to do that next year.

Post checkers it was starting to get dark and so I walked Karin back to her hotel, said goodbye and headed on the second half of the day: Cowboy Mouth!

Cowboy Mouth

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Sidi’s Rap

About a week ago I went to a concert for Malouma (from Mauritania) and Ragheb Allama (from Lebanon). The concert was pretty good. I didn’t understand a word of it, but I liked Allama a bit more than Malouma. The Arabic music is just a bit more melodic.

While I was there I chatted with a few different people. One of them was a Cameroonian who told me about how he converted to Christianity and his father disowned him and then he moved here and his father died while he was here. But, “ç’est ls vie,” he said. He then went on a little mini-tirade about the demon of Islam being poured down children’s throats when they are little and they can never be rid of it. It sounded pretty similar to stuff I’ve heard before in the States except I was hearing people bemoaning unexamined Christianity.

I sat for a while and talked music with a couple Mauritanians working security and they told me they didn’t like the Maure music. They liked rap. American rap was good, especially Busta Rhymes and Tupac. There are also some good local rappers though, both Hassaniya and Wolof. I’m going to head over to one of their houses tomorrow to listen to some stuff. I wanted to take a little present and have been putting together a rap CD out of my music collection for the last hour.

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Beautiful

We are all beautiful. Beautiful beautiful butterflies. Some of us butterflies are just a bit more beautiful beautiful. Like Molly, Miriam, ammedley and I when we went out this weekend sporting our new spectacular duds.

It began a couple weeks ago when we were all out on a routine visit to the market. Little did we know the wonder and majesty that lay in store. I went to look at some nice wax print from Dakar because I wanted to make some clothes. I was headed to a Lebanese boutique I usually use for my cloth. Alas, on my arrival, I found his shop closed for the afternoon. We continued on our way and finished some other shopping when I thought to drop by one last time to see if he had opened. Praises be, he had in fact arrived in the interim.

We were coming in as I was struck by a vision in green and red. Like a shimmering iridescent watermelon it called to me. “Give me life,” it said. “Take me and let me walk. I am weak and cannot carry myself. I need a body to take my gloriousness into the world.” I sank to my knees as I choked back a sob. “Andrew,” I croaked, “you have got to make this into a suit.” (I said I was touched, not stupid enough to wear an iridescent watermelon suit.)

ammedley, showing an uncharacteristic fashion sense, was a bit reluctant to take part. He begged off saying hat he’d look foolish wearing a suit made of this wondrous fabric. Despite my best efforts he could not be disabused of this silly idea. In he end a compromise was struck and he would get one if I also got one and we would wear them out. I was willing, but I was of the opinion that our situation would be much improved if we had some lovely ladies to go out with us. By coincidence we happened to have some lovely ladies with us, but they unfortunately had no attire appropriate for wearing to accompany an iridescent suit. It was therefor decided that they should get dresses made to go with our suits.

Fortunately there were a variety of iridescent fabrics to choose from. Each was two toned and depending on the light, appeared to be different colors. We took a vote on the colors for each of us and at the end it was:

Andrew green red
Will gold navy
Molly rose teal
Miriam orange burnt umber

ammedley and I headed off to a tailleur known for his suits. After calling him and waiting half an hour we were being measured. A chill ran down my spine as I thought of giving this fabric life. At the end he told us that it would take a week and 16000um ($50), but he could do the job.

Two weeks pass and Saturday we were all together again from our various travels around Mauritania. There was a brief scare when he said he needed some more time. As planets we hearty four move in erratic orbits and that another propitious alignment would occur was doubtful, especially with my fast approaching disappearance from the scene. Fortunately, a night of hard labor was all that was needed. After an explanation of the seriousness of the matter and a couple thinly veiled threats of violence for good measure, Fall saw his way clear to doing the work.

The girls had a bit rougher time of it. They both looked stunning, but Molly’s had a slight cleavage problem in that there was a saddening lack. Not that she isn’t well equipped to provide, just the cut of the dress didn’t properly permit. In any case they looked really good and I was more than pleased to get to escort them.

We began the evening with a dinner at the Saharah Café where we’d gone in the day before and preordered a Lebanese feast. In honor of Molly’s birthday most all of Nouakcott’s volunteers gathered to celebrate. Plates of humos, baba ganoush, tabbouleh, some hushpuppyesque meatballs and other Lebanese delights came rolling out of the kitchen. I stuffed myself into a hummus coma just in time to head to Molly’s for the delicious chocolate cake adrianapublico had prepared with coffee. Scott was kind enough to bring one of the new five liter buckets of ice cream we now have and life was good. Chocolate cake, vanilla ice cream and coffee; was man meant to have it this good? Might we not fail to pierce the veil of soulmaking if he is too caught up in experiences such as these?

After our food those of us who are apt to do, set in with a bit of drinking before sojourning to the Salamander. To set the atmosphere a bit we head up to roof and lie about chatting. adrianapublico nursed a full liter of pastis and water while I worked my way through several whiskey and cream sodas. It was good that we were keeping the party fires burning because as we left to head to the club it ran a serious danger of going out. Our group of sixteen dwindled to six. People were tired, people were full, people had to get up early, blah, blah, blah… Only adrianapublico and the ever faithful Scott joined us in our pursuit of dancing. Lisa came along for a bit, but left fairly shortly after flipping everyone off.

Sufficit to say we danced into the wee hours. The DJ did his best to prevent it by playing nothing but Spanish music. We were nothing if not persistent though and I went to the guy asking for hiphop no less than ten times. In the end I spent my time wiggling my hips and hoping for a better song.

Our spectacular dress continued to evolve as the night went on. The girls’ hadn’t much to lose, so their dresses did little but darken with sweat. As for ammedley and myself though we rapidly lost our jackets and the shirt sleeves were rolled up within minutes of arriving in the club. My slide continued a bit farther and at the girls’ behest I was soon wearing naught save my gold vest and pants. Though they assured me it was a good look, I was dubious. I managed to reclaim my shirt and Miriam proposed that in order for me to share the shame we could simply exchange clothes. Somehow this seemed perfectly reasonable until I realized upon seeing us in the mirror in the bathroom that she in fact looked quite fetching in pants whereas I looked like a freak in a dress.

I was fortunately too large to drag from the bathroom and managed to get most of my clothes back. I continued the night without my shirt looking like a wannabe Chip-n-Dale, but after the amount of humiliation I nearly suffered it was a shame easily borne.

Round about 3am after a surprisingly strong showing my iridescent companions decided to turn in. Much to my surprise, adrianapublico wanted to go with them. Since this left me to party alone, I decided to call it a night myself.

About three hours later adrianapublico and ammedley headed off to their homes and I rolled over to sleep another five hours. ☺

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