28 June 2008

Today's Advertisement

Found in the window of Tropicana is today's picture. I truly hope that it's a play on words, but somehow I don't think it is.

For Tuffie

One of the dear people in my life accepted a new job with greater responsibilities. I am very happy for him. So happy, in fact, that I'm dedicating this Sinfest cartoon to him ...

Go get 'em, Tuffie!

25 June 2008

D.C. Cowboys on America's Got Talent

Any good homo in my fair city knows who the D.C. Cowboys are. A friend of mine, Aaron Jackson, is a member of the famous gay cowboy dance troupe (and you can see him over Kevin Platte's right shoulder (the one with the mic)). I had heard that they would be auditioning for America's Got Talent and, sure enough, they did. If you didn't see the show, you can catch their appearance below.

Congratulations, boys!

24 June 2008

Anacostia, My Home Sweet Home

Washington City Paper has a very interesting pool of articles covering the major neighborhoods in the District. One is a very thoughtful piece written about Anacostia, Fairlawn, Barry Farm, and Buena Vista (collectively addressed as "Anacostia" to those who don't live here). The first three sentences sum up everything with which I have to deal when talking to people about my neighborhood.
Let me warn you about Anacostia: If you move there, your friends are going to make all sorts of stupid remarks about it right to your face. They will ask you if you carry a gun. They will be quite concerned about your well-being and they will, in all likelihood, not come see you at your large and inexpensive historic home.

Well, in my case, it is my large and inexpensive one-bedroom condo bordering parkland. But you get the point.

The author, while speaking about the potential of growth here, makes the assumption that D.C. United will build a soccer stadium at Poplar Point. While it would be a handsome new addition to my neighborhood and would keep Major League Soccer's winning-est team (and the District's most successful team ever) in the city, it appears to be a prospect that looks less likely by the day. So all of this growth that will eventually come to Anacostia will just have to happen a bit slower (unless the city gets its shit together and gets that stadium built).

But I digress.

I echo the sentiments of David Garber, an Anacostia blogger:
Graber wishes people would focus more on Anacostia’s gorgeous old houses—lots of 19th-century wood-framed stand-alones in various states of solidity and decrepitude—and the potential for its historic main street to be rehabbed into a more Georgetown-like place. The buildings are lovely, and the sidewalks have potential, though you get the feeling it’s going to take a long time before blond yuppies spend their flip-flopped weekends drunkenly stumbling around here.

This really is a great place to live and had a ton of potential. Those who move in now, as is with all "transitional neighborhoods", have the most to gain when (and not if) the neighborhood forms into a "SE Georgetown". It isn't the crime-ridden crack den it was in the 80's and early 90's.

Where I really want to point your attention is to The Neighborhood Rankinator. Which neighborhood ranks Number 4? That's right ... Anacostia. We rank higher than "safer" and "more notable" neighborhoods such as Foggy Bottom, Woodley Park, Adams Morgan, and Tenleytown.

That's right! Suck it, Dupont Circle!

(No, really. Suck it.)

Random Music: "Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey" by The Beatles

Let's see how long this post stays up before the strong arm of Apple Corps LTD slams down on me.

This song is one of the lesser known entries in The Beatles' catalog. (I'm not providing a link to The Beatles. If you don't know who they are, shame on you.) It's taken from their double album The Beatles, which is more widely known as "The White Album". What makes it stand out from any other recording The Beatles had ever made is its funky 1970's dance groove (pushed mostly by Paul's funky bass line and that powerful cowbell). What makes it stand out from any other recording ever, and so it's place here today, is that it was released in 1968. Just goes to show, yet again, how progressive and groundbreaking the band was and why they will always be the greatest rock band in history.

I prefer that songs-of-no-sense be left that way. I like songs like this one, with words that can be interpreted any way the listener chooses, to be left that way ... open to interpretation. Well, John had to go and ruin it with an explaination:
In 1980, Lennon said: "That was just a sort of nice line that I made into a song. It was about me and Yoko. Everybody seemed to be paranoid except for us two, who were in the glow of love. Everything is clear and open when you're in love. Everybody was sort of tense around us: You know, 'What is she doing here at the session? Why is she with him?' All this sort of madness is going on around us because we just happened to want to be together all the time."


I'd rather think that it really was about your standard drug induced spiritual mumbo-jumbo that was all the rave at that time (again pioneered by The Beatles).

That and monkeys.

Everybodys Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey - The Beatles

20 June 2008

The People's Choice

Every once in a blue moon, the residents of my fair city renew my hope in them (at least for a few minutes). Today, it was announced that in a very close race that the winner of the District quarter race is none other than ...

19 June 2008

District Two-Fer - Three?

I just posted today a couple District-related stories. "One-Fer" covered Mayor Marion Bar ... I mean ... Adrian Fenty's (I really should get that name right) District-taxpayers-funded campaigning for Senator Barack Obama's Presidential bid.

WTOP is now reporting that Mayor Fenty is rethinking his position on making us foot the bill.
Fenty says he will review his policy.

"The citizens of the District of Columbia have my commitment that we will review everything we're doing, compare it to what other big city mayors do and compare with what governors do. And if it is not following what those big city mayors are doing, then we'll make an adjustment."

Here's an adjustment for you, Mr. Mayor. You seem to be keen on opposing spending public money on ballparks, hotels, and other such projects which actually help your constituents because you say that these people have enough money and should spend their own if they want it done.

Why do you have to review, compare, and adjust when it comes to a Presidential candidate? Maybe you missed the news when Senator Obama was breaking fundraising records. Or maybe you were too busy today playing lackey for a position on Obama's Administration doing the people's work to notice that he opted out of public financing today. Sounds to me like the man has enough money to cover your tab.

So here's the easy and right answer, Mr. Mayor. The District will be refunded from the Obama campaign coffer the over-$50,000 you have spent campaigning for Senator Obama. All future campaigning you do for the good Senator will be paid for by the Senator's campaign coffer.

Quit brown-nosing on our dime!

District Two-Fer

While I think Rusty at Why.I.Hate.DC. is a douche and complains too much about petty issues and is flat-out wrong on others, I have to agree with him 100% on a piece of news on which he commented today. That news, reported by Mark Segraves with WTOP Radio, is about Mayor Mari ... I mean ... Adrian Fenty and the over $50,000 he's charged District taxpayers for his campaigning across the country for Senator Barack Obama. All I really have to say is that I railed against electing him for mayor on my previous, and now-defunct, blog site. I told you all that Adrian Fenty was a populist con artist and that his administration would be the second-(or would that be third-)coming of the Marion Barry years. But you District residents overwhelmingly voted him into office. Well, you deserve the government you elect. I hope you do better on this whole Presidential election thing.

Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee has stated that she is planning on being Schools Chancellor for seven more years. While this decision is partly out of her hands, I do hope that she decides to stick this through and that future city administrations keep her on for as long as she wants to stay. As I've said before, hiring Chancellor Rhee was probably the smartest thing Mayor Fenty has done so far. She's intelligent, innovative, committed, and not afraid to make the right decisions for the benefit of the city's children, regardless of how many special interest groups she pisses off. Kudos you, Chancellor!

Gay Hell

I'm not sure which it is exactly (Dante sort of left it out), but I do believe that sitting in a room full of men who are all drinking wine and singing along to "The Little Mermaid" has to be one of the nine Circles Of Gay Hell.

18 June 2008

Why God? WHY?!

Best Buy, why must you mock me so? Have I not been good to you? Why do you turn your back on me now, in this, my hour of need?

You are a cold, heartless, soulless mistress.

(But I still love you.)

17 June 2008

Random Music: "Cuando Canto" by Ozomatli

I first heard this band when a friend of mine let me rifle through a stack of promotional CDs he took home from his stint in radio and publications. (Trust me, those folks get a TON of freebies.) I don't know what it was that led me to take the CD. Perhaps it was my strong, yet budding, interest in Latin and Latin-influenced music. Perhaps it was because it was free and, let's face it, who am I to turn down a gift? Whatever the reason, I took it. And I played it. Over and over again. I was not only left speechless by the mixture of musical styles but also by the talents of the musicians, the power of the words, and the emotion in the songs.

But who is Ozomatli?

Ozomatli is hard to explain. So I'll let Wikipedia get into the weeds for me. I can say that their music defies categorizations at times and that they are one of the more obviously activist bands performing today. If you've ever seen Never Been Kissed, then maybe you remember the club scene ... the one with the "special brownies". No? It starts around the 4:05 mark on this YouTube video. The band performing onstage? Ozomatli.

Okay then.

I've been a fan of the band since my first listen. Their music is powerful. And catchy. And fun. Of the many songs of theirs that I wanted to post, one kept coming to the forefront of my mind. It's not their most upbeat tune. It's not their most political tune. But the music is incredibly moving. And the words, I believe, echo the sentiments of a great number of people out there:
Cuando canto mi canción quero inspirar mi gente con una solución
Cuando desperto en la mañana sé que tengo el poder para un dia triumfar
Cuando me acuesto en la noche puedo mirar estrellas que me dan esperanza
Cuando sueño en la madrugada ojala que mi trabajo no es temporal
Cuando demuestro mi corazón con mis aciones puedes entender que no soy hombre perfecto no soy pero trato mucho, trato decidir lo mas major para el mundo y lo pongo en una canción
Cuando canto mi canción

Roughly translated:
When I sing my song, I want to inspire my people with a solution.
When I wake up in the morning, I know that I have the power for any triumph.
When I go to bed at night, I can see the stars that give me hope.
When I dream in the early morning, I hope that my work is not temporary.
When I show my heart through my actions, you can understand that I am not a perfect man. I am not, but I try to make the best decisions for the world and I put it in a song,
When I sing my song.

Cuando Canto - Ozomatli

15 June 2008

Happy Blogoversary To Me! (Now Where Are My Presents?)

It was exactly one year ago today that The District Diaries sprang from the cyber-primordial soup of the Internet. I wasn't a newbie to blogging. I ran a political-centric blog called The Devil's Advocate for the better part of five years. But writing about politics (local and national) took a major toll on me. I began to lose my faith in humankind. I began to lose my sanity. And so, in the early part of 2007, I shuttered The Devil's Advocate and vowed to never blog again.

As fate would have it, my brother and I were talking during a family get-together in May 2007. We discussed politics and music, as we often do. The conversation shifted to blogging. During that conversation, my brother told me that my unique voice should be shared and that I should get back to blogging ... maybe not about politics exactly, but about something.

I thought long about it. Did I really want to get back to the frequent updates and sharing that comes with blogging? It can be very draining, all this thinking and exposing and writing. I've shared more personal feelings here than I'm known to do, as some people can attest. I've jumped into some controversial topics that left me bruised. There have been times over the past year when I wanted to quit this, too.

In the end, my brother was right. I have a lot to say. I have a lot to share. Some of it has been very serious; some of it, not so much. It's been difficult at times, but I believe this site is helping me to become a better person. And for that I have you, my faithful readers, to thank. You have helped to steer the course of this ship. You have become quite vocal yourselves in the comments, commending me when I'm right and calling me out when I'm wrong.

So whaddya say? Think we can keep this thing going for another year?

I'm game if you are.

12 June 2008

Pride! What Is It Good For?

My apologies to Edwin Starr but, during Pride Week here in the District, the question needs to be asked. What is the point of this week-long celebration of all things gay?

The homosexual community has become more fragmented and can't seem to agree on anything.

HIV/AIDS is still among us, still claiming lives.

Homosexuals are more visible now than they've ever been.

Pride festivities have devolved into fetish- and stereotype- filled parties where the most negative aspects of the community are on display.

What is there to be proud about?

I wish I knew. At one point in time, Pride Week was a time to show solidarity to the world. It was a time to stand for causes, to push for equality, to demand the same protections afforded to other targeted groups.

Now? I don't know. I certainly can't see a point to any of it. Maybe it's because I've seen where things were and where they are. Maybe it's because I'm just getting old and jaded and comfortable. Maybe it's because I could be right.

Would someone tell me? Pride ... what is it good for?

The Boys And Their New Home

I have two boys, Hades and Zeus. They *finally* love their new kitty condo. See?

10 June 2008

A District Two-Fer

In my continued mocking of my police chief's latest decision, the Metropolitan Police Department declares this weekend's neighborhood blockade a rounding success. But my favorite quote from the whole article is this:
"As cars came up, they made lefts and rights and went the other way," neighborhood activist Wilhelmina Lawson said. "I support them, and I understand what they're trying to do, but I think they're missing it by not sitting down and talking to the residents. We can help them much better if they talk to us."

But that's not all. My second favorite comes just paragraphs later:
Police in Baltimore, where there has been a 36 percent decrease in homicides and shootings this year, said they attribute that to targeting violent criminals and improving relationships with members of the community.

"You lock up the baddest of the bad in part by working with people in the neighborhood," Baltimore police spokesman Sterling Clifford said. "You look to people in the neighborhood to tell you who they are and where they are."

If B'more gets it, why can't we?

How much did Harriette Walters syphon away before getting caught? $50 million? Not even close. Try closer to $185 million!
Following Harriette Walters's input, officials left her small unit out of the new software system, making it easier for her to escape detection as she allegedly produced fake checks that prosecutors say amounted to $50 million.

Directors in the scandal-plagued tax department now want to scrap the $135 million system rather than try to upgrade it to make it more secure. The chief financial officer's technology manager says the system, installed between 2000 and 2004, is too outdated and clumsy to be worth fixing.

This has been a rough couple of years for my poor city.

Random Music: "Iphigenia In Brooklyn" by P.D.Q. Bach

There isn't much I can say about this other than Professor Peter Schickele is a genius. You should take some time to listen to the works of P.D.Q. Bach. To get you started is "Iphigenia In Brooklyn". It's not one of P.D.Q. Bach's more famous pieces (but what is, really), yet it will give you an idea of the sophistication of his work. Listen very carefully to everything ... lyrics, music, "sound effects" ... anything can be a gag. (It helps to have an understanding of music in general, music theory, musical instruments, Greek mythology, et cetera, et cetera, so on and so forth.)

(In the music, listen closely for a well-known children's church song and a very recognizable entrance to a famous classical piece.)

And so you can follow along:
From: Cantata: Iphigenia In Brooklyn, S. 53162
Composer: P.D.Q. Bach (Peter Schickele)
Aria: "As Hyperion across the flaming sky his chariot did ride, Iphigenia herself in Brooklyn found."

Recitative: "And lo, she found herself within a market, and all around her fish were dying; and yet their stench did live on."

Ground: "Dying, and yet in death alive."

Recitative: "And in a vision Iphigenia saw her brother Orestes, who was being chased by the Amenities; and he cried out in anguish: 'Oh ye gods, who knows what it is to be running? Only he who is running knows'."

Aria: "Running knows."

Cantata: Iphigenia In Brooklyn, S. 53162 - Chamber Orchestra

09 June 2008

It Shall Be Mine ...

... oh yes, it shall be mine.

Let's Not Have A Repeat Of Memorial Day Weekend Next Week, Shall We? Thanks.

Last night was a very slow night (thankfully). But, for some bizarre reason, I still had to deal with cuntwad patrons. I had three annoying people ... out of the twenty who were there ... which seems like an awfully high cuntwad-to-awesome ratio to me ... harass me. Here are some things not to say to me while I'm working:
  • How long until I'm up?
I honestly don't mind you asking me this question ... once ... when you hand me your song card. I will gladly tell you your estimated wait time. Any further inquiries from you will result in the exact same answer from me. Which means you will never get to sing.
  • Did you call my name yet?
Did you hear me call your name yet? No? Then I must not have called your name yet. Move along now. And pay more attention to what's happening here.
  • Can you move me up in the line?
Technically, yes. I am the host, you know. But that's not how we roll here. This is a "first come, first served" zone. You get put in the song queue in the order in which you handed me your song card. If you want to sing sooner, show up sooner.
  • But this person up here sang twice already since I've been here!
Yep. This person showed up early and gave me their songs early. Move along now.

I really don't want to be a dick to you. I'm running this show as fairly as I possibly can. Ask anyone who knows me; I'm a creature of rules and fairness. (And majorly anal retentive.) My goal, my job, is to move this show on in the quickest, most entertaining way. On slow nights, everyone will get to sing ... more than once, even. But on nights like Memorial Day weekend and, I imagine, next weekend, it will be insanely busy. The best way to ensure that you will sing is to be there when the doors open, pick your song(s) quickly, and hand your song card(s) to me ... early. Otherwise, I can't guarantee anything.

Be patient. Have fun drinking and socializing. Pay attention to the show. Don't harass the host. And we'll all have a gay ol' time together.

05 June 2008

The Continuing Saga Of Bringing Kurt Russell Films To Life

As was mentioned yesterday, the city police will quarantine off the Trinidad neighborhood to discourage violent crimes. Some people are happy to roll over and let the police do what they will, even if that means hassling innocent people. (Which, I always thought, we all were until proven guilty. But what do I know.)

Others are not quite as pliable and are vocalizing their concerns with city officials and the police chief. Instead of making a logic-based argument, perhaps ... say ... by citing statistics of how violent crime rated dropped so dramatically in these other cities where this measure has been implemented, Chief Lanier instead turned to those tried-and-true District stand-by retorts ... whining and snark.
"Its funny," Lanier told reporters, "We put check points in place all the time for major events around federal buildings and nobody cares. Now that we want to do it to stop shootings and violence in our neighborhoods, it's as if it's something that's unreasonable. We've been doing it for years around federal facilities in the name of terrorism. If what's going on in our neighborhood doesn't classify as something that justifies this, I don't know what does."

It is funny, Chief, because nothing draws people to your point of view quite like berating and humiliating them. You might as well have used the the infamous "flag argument" ... it would have been just as effective.

The city will move ahead with this approach. And it will be done half-assed because they will meet resistance from the people of the city. And nothing will improve.

Sometimes, I hate D.C., too.

04 June 2008

Pay-PAHS?! Vee Don't Need No Steen-keeng Pay-PAHS!

Several blog sites have picked up on this The Examiner story.
D.C. police will seal off entire neighborhoods, set up checkpoints and kick out strangers under a new program that D.C. officials hope will help them rescue the city from its out-of-control violence.

Under an executive order expected to be announced today, police Chief Cathy L. Lanier will have the authority to designate “Neighborhood Safety Zones.” At least six officers will man cordons around those zones and demand identification from people coming in and out of them. Anyone who doesn’t live there, work there or have “legitimate reason” to be there will be sent away or face arrest, documents obtained by The Examiner show.

(The Washington Post has a write-up on this story as well.)

If you think this is some belated April Fool's joke, it's not. The Office of Mayor Adrian Fenty released this press release today to address this so-called "public safety initiative".

The other bloggers have effectively covered the "slippery slope to a police state" angle of this story, so I'll let that be. I'm more concerned about precedent already set - how this plan will fail. See, the mayor, the police chief, and the interim attorney general have not done their due diligence. If they had, they would already know that once you've locked down an area from the rest of civilization, you can't unlock it. It becomes a haven for the very people you're trying to keep out. Then, before you know it, you'll have to go back into this boiling cauldron of evil to save the President, to retrieve the remote control for a super space weapon, or to find a cure for a devastating disease. And we just don't have people lying around in this city competent enough to pull off such stunts.

So please, people running this city, think of the President and shelf this idea.

Two Of My Childhood Favorites, Together At Last

Watch them in order.




03 June 2008

Random Music: "Shambala" by B.W. Stevenson, by Three Dog Night, and by Rockapella

One of the few popular songs from my childhood that has left an impression on me to this day, Shambala has been one of those rare musical enigmas ... a catchy tune that charted in the same year under two separate performers. In 1973, it charted Number 66 for B.W. Stevenson and, a few weeks later, Number 3 for Three Dog Night.

B.W. Stevenson's version is not quite as slickly produced as Three Dog Night's. It definitely has a country twang to it. It starts a half step lower then, in the last verse, it augments up a half step into a key we more recognize. And instead of "ooo", he gives us "yay-ee". But, in its own right, it is a strong recording. Take a listen for yourself.

Shambala - B.W. Stevenson
As mentioned already, the song broke the Top 100 twice in the same year by two different performers. Still despite its popularity, it rarely has been covered since 1973. Usually songs that prove to be so infectious will be recorded many times over. Perhaps it is because Three Dog Night's recording is viewed as the de facto version. Perhaps it is because the subject matter, of one's journey to enlightenment, hasn't necessarily been culturally relevant since the early 1970's. Perhaps it is because the song is so goddamned difficult to sing!

Whatever the reason, the Three Dog Night recording is the most prevalent and the one that comes to mind.

Shambala - Three Dog Night

In my scouring of the Internets, I have found another version. This one was recorded in 2002 by the a capella singing group Rockapella on their album Smilin'. It is familiar insomuch as it's "Shambala". (I mean, really, how much can you change a song before you irreparably "re-imagine" it into something completely different and new?) Rockapella's interpretation, in my opinion, embodies in tone and execution how I imagine a path to spiritual growth would be. (As a "Recovering Baptist", I haven't devoted much time to growing spiritually in a long while so I don't really know what it would be like. But that's a post for another day ... perhaps.)

As much as I still love the Three Dog Night version and as much as it will always hold a dear place in my heart, I have to admit that Rockapella's version has become my favorite version of this song.

What say you?

Shambala - Rockapella

02 June 2008

Since I'm Awake - Ten Random Thoughts

  1. Insomnia is evil and needs to be destroyed. Where's the government funding for this project?
  2. Feelings and emotions are necessary elements of life. But it doesn't mean I have to like them.
  3. "Notes From The Frozen Bar" on The Knowledgemonger's site is an absolute Must Read!
  4. Dance music doesn't have the same affect outside of the nightclub.
  5. Did I mention that insomnia sucks?
  6. Sharing feelings and emotions is even worse than having them. I mean, c'mon, who wrote these rules? Isn't there an annual peer review process?
  7. "Hey, hey ... we're da Monkees. People say we monkey 'round. What of it?"
  8. Insomnia. Yeah.
  9. Having music playing in a vehicle that all passengers can hear is an absolute necessity.
  10. I'm not one to wax poetic or drop clichés but. Love is a rare resource in this world. Share it when you have it. Recognize it when you see it. Accept it when you feel it.