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June 5 1998, Friday



ne of the advantages of getting drunk on Guiness (something I'd never done prior to last night) is that it doesn't give much of a hangover. The steep price is partly compensated for by the productivity possible the next day [insert appropriate sappy emoticon here].

The music I've been listening to today is the self-titled album of Garbage, which used to get lots of radio airplay back in 1996. It still reminds me of driving to Big Fun. Though no one ever listened to Garbage at Big Fun (where fresh pop music was usually regarded with disdain), in my car I used to have a tape that included "Only Happy When It Rains." There's other good songs on here too. A fresh new favourite is "Fix Me Now." Just the sound of Ms. Garbage singing the chorus line in that song is, uh, very sexy.


  decided to go into Washington D.C. today, digital camera and all, to check out a familiar place from my past, DuPont Circle in Northwest DC. Back in 1994, I had a friend named Mara Balassa (the idea is that she can find this reference to herself if she ever uses a search engine) who lived on Wyoming Avenue in a grand old building that used to be a foreign embassy. I visited her several times and often hung out on DuPont Circle while she was away at work or whatever it was she did during the day. She was a nice girl from a Hungarian Jewish family, by the way, for all you people interested in such things. And her late father was one of Marilyn Monroe's official photographers back in the day (a little unexpected tie-in with yesterday).

Again I made myself a bottle of vodkatea, and again I rode the mountain bike. The weather, though, was most unusual. Heavy clouds greyed out the skies like some sort of eerie special effect and the air was kind of chilly, somewhere in the low sixties (16 Celsius or so). By the time I'd locked my biked up on Bethesda Avenue and walked to the Metro station, occasional small drops of drizzle fell from the sky. I passed a couple of raver girls in enormous pants; they looked disgusted to have their Friday night so mishandled by the gods.

A ride on the Metro is one of the many unsung joys of life. Here you are, stuck in close proximity for fifteen minutes with a group of complete strangers, all with stories to tell, stories you'll never get to hear, so you just glance out of the corner of your eye at their tired faces and guess.

As the escalator lifted me from subterranean D.C. to the surface at DuPont Circle, the swelling grey circle of sky that would soon engulf me had taken on an even more ominous complexion. Far off at the top of the incredible climb, I could see umbrellas unfurling. There was no way to tell if a downpour was falling or just a light rain. It would have been spectacular to emerge from the tranquil land of the troglodytes into a fierce thunderstorm, but it was just a cold drizzle.


he weather was a damper on the Friday evening. Despite the significance of the day of the week, there were no comfortable places to mill about, be seen and get together. The fountain in the middle of DuPont circle had its crowd of zealots, however A group of AIDS quilt people had their quilts out and answered questions of passersby, and several groups of mostly African-American (the word "black" is just confusing at this point) chess players had set up tables under the trees and were locked in competition.

I wandered up and down the dreary busy streets, looking for I don't know what, behaving sort of as a space alien might when exploring another planet.

A group of young gay men passed me, and one of them, a tall black guy with green hair, said "Hi" in exactly the effeminate voice I expected. I said hello back, and they all burst into laughter like little school girls, lingering at the point where I'd passed them (judging from the fact that their sound wasn't receding quickly), but I kept on, never turning around to see.

I went back and forth a half dozen blocks both ways on Connecticut Avenue. Then I saw it: a bunch of nicely-dressed white people converging on a building in which people appeared to be sipping glasses of white wine. I'd know this sight anywhere: an art opening. I was nervous though and kept walking, figuring I'd maybe check it out in a little bit after it got hopping. It seemed like a pretty easy thing to crash (art openings usually are), but in street-smart DC, who knew?

I eventually came back to the opening (at the Troyer Fitzpatrick Lassman Gallery) and impulsively walked in. I wasn't dressed particularly well, but I looked respectable enough, certainly as tidy as some of the others there. It was a small gallery, today opening with lots of different works by different people in completely different media. The wine and finger food were easy pickings, though I was careful to walk around and look at all the art before going to the goods. Discretion is important in the way I do these things. The idea is to look like you know what you're doing, like you've been here a million times before, and above all else, convey an impression of friendliness and and joy. There's no reason to be a dick when you're getting drinks for free.

I didn't really talk to anyone the whole time I was there. I was mostly still in space-probe mode. I had my sensors out though; I was interested in hearing of any post-opening activities. I found myself hoping some unattractive girl would show up so I could worm in on the scene using her vulnerability. That sounds brutal I know, but I would have made it worth her while (within limits). Sadly, though, no such opportunities presented themselves. I exchanged a few hellos, and indicated some basic knowledge of photographic techniques when one of the curators tried to interest a group of potential customer in the works of the late Dr. Marcel Bardon, who passed away a week ago. His photographs were amazing, I must agree. His technique was to use extremely small apertures and long exposures to take deep pictures in which all the details in the foreground, midground and background were sharply in focus. For example, you could see all the little cracks and chips in a window frame clearly, along with all the fine detail of the distant scene visible through the glass. The picture above is one Bardon made using lots of small black and white photographs of assorted objects and landscape fragments, each forming a pixel to create the face of a woman.

The opening wound down. There was plenty of vino, but it was being put away. Morgan Anarchy would have grabbed a case and run, but I'd had my fair share and decided it was time to move on. Alcohol is important, but not that important.

The rain had stopped and been replaced with an uncomfortable chill. Still, the streets had filled with people. I wandered through them some more, enjoying the craziness but also feeling isolated by it. Eventually I caught the Metro back up to Bethesda, snapping a few pictures on the way.

riders on the Red Line caught unaware

I tried to shoot the whole bodies of these women across from me, but my fetishes ruled the day and I only got their legs! That's just as well, I suppose. The legs in the foreground are my own.


one year ago
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