afternoon in Adams Morgan
Thursday, April 21 2005
setting: Silver Spring, Montgomery County, Maryland, USA
Dina, Gretchen's childhood friend, the one we visited in South Africa during our pre-wedding honeymoon, is in Isræl these days working as a freelance journalist. But at this moment she, like us, happens to be in Silver Spring for Passover. With her is her new boyfriend-turned-fiancé Gilad, whom Gretchen was desperate to meet. In Gretchen's social universe there's a ritual wherein friends must submit their new mates for extensive interviews prior to the application of the inevitable stamp of approval.
This morning Dina and Gilad came over to Gretchen's parents' house, where we were staying, and we all set off for a day of activities in the District of Columbia. By the way, I noticed at some point that at the bottom of all new DC license plates the slogan is "Taxation Without Representation," a bitingly-clever upgrade of the uselessly pleasant old slogan, "A Capitol City."
Out first stop was the building museum, one of the Smithsonian museums. All by itself it's an unusually beautiful building by DC standards. It's a big 19th Century red brick structure with an industrial-age frieze wrapping all the way around. Inside its dominated with huge columns covered in trompe d'oeil plaster making them appear as if they are single massive stalks of marble. Unfortunately, the exhibit about modern concrete techniques (called "Liquid Stone") happened to be closed. So we went to the other exhibits, including one about architect tools and another about the design of public spaces. Gretchen knew at least one of us would find it interesting; Gilad is an architect and I'm a handyman (as well as a gadget freak and amateur concretesmith).
By now we were all starving, so we went up into Adams Morgan to enjoy one of its treasures: Ethiopian food at the restaurant called Meskerem. I'd been here before with Gretchen. Everybody sits down around a communal piece of the fermented rubbery bread injera (or "octopus hide" as I call it) to tear off pieces and fold them into mini tacos around various goopy food items (these are similar to things you'd find in an Indian restaurant).
At some point in the meal we were joined by one of Dina's old friends from the Associated Press, let's call him Bob. Bob is a Palestinian Arab who used to work for Al Jazeera but now has a job as a producer with an American propaganda news network called Al Hurra. Being that everyone in the Arab world knows that Al Hurra is a propaganda network, the channel struggles to scrape together both viewership and talent. The latter struggle is made considerably more difficult by the fact that American government "anti-possible-terrorist" screening filters out most of what little talent Al Hurra might otherwise be able to hire, leaving it with B-rate on-air personalities, mostly Christians from Lebanon who proudly consider themselves the descendants of crusaders and who speak French much better than they do Arabic. This makes Bob something of a big fish in a small pond, since he's Muslim, speaks an excellent Palestinian dialect of Arabic, and has considerable cable news experience. And the government doesn't (yet) think he's a terrorist because he was born in the United States and is culturally Western. In hopes of producing something of quality, Al Hurra has given him license to do pretty much what he wants. He doesn't have much hope for his employer but (as we know from my experience at College Club) it's possible to do good work and have fun even when its for a doomed cause.
Later we all went across the street to the coffee shop called Tryst, one whose bathrooms Gretchen and I once used as an emergency romantic setting back in the early part of our rediscovered relationship. I'm at the age now where coffee shops just make me feel old, no matter how much high quality caffeine I drink.
That ingera I'd eaten for lunch did what ingera is rumored to do, it expanded throughout the evening in my stomach. This gave me a fullness that prevented me from becoming hungry. By late evening all I really wanted were a few Tam Tams for dinner.
A forelorn stripmall recruiting center on Georgia Avenue heading into DC from Silver Spring.
Random street scene in DC.
A picture of a model of DC in the Building Museum.
Writing in the grout in the Tryst men's room.
A subway sticker on the Tryst men's room mirror.
A toilet in the Tryst men's room.
Across the street from Tryst is the Angry Inch, perhaps a Hedwig reference?
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