Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Dispatch is Back. AND IT"S MOVING!

Hey dispatch-ees!  Texarkana Dispatch is moving to tumblr, where hopefully it will be updated more than once a year.

Find your newest dispatches at the new url:  http://texarkanadispatch.tumblr.com/

Thursday, July 26, 2012

50 Shades of BFF



What do you do with your BFF? With my BFFs, I'm likely to see a show or, more likely, just chat for a few hours at a restaurant or museum or at home or, in summer, at the rooftop pool. And, often, recently, we chat about 50 Shades of Grey. Specifically, wtf is the fuss about? (Since we haven't read it and it seems so ridiculous to pay so much for what is described as a badly written sex book when you can find badly written or filmed porn online for free.)

And dates?  Especially first dates, when BFF-ness isn't established? I've done plenty 2 hours'-worth of chatting on first dates. In coffeeshops and bars and restaurants. And in parks and museums and at sports or theater or dance events. I can't recall ever discussing 50 shades of grey at any of these dates.

SOO... Brian Feldman, CapFringe artist and BFF for hire.  Not really a BFF and not really a first date.  During CapFringe, Brian and his BFFs (i.e., 1-person audiences) have spent their 2 hours together going bowling, eating/drinking at Hooters (among other fine establishments), and standing in line to apply to Metro's new anti-busking busking program.

SO... when I met Brian last week at the start of our 2 hours together, I suggested we read 50 shades of grey out loud.  Brian was game.  I mentioned how much I love public transportation and suggested we read it on the Circulator bus to Georgetown.  (Side note: I love public transportation. I love the dynamics of watching people, but not overtly. I love the random, diverse mix of people to watch. And the potential for crazy people.) Brian was game.  (Side note 2: I love the BFF for hire idea.  BFFs for hire seem very agreeable.) 

It was the beginning of rush hour, so the bus wasn't fully packed, though we did have to stand. And we read.  Starting at page 1. Alternating pages and filming each other. (And Brian live tweeting it. #eroticfiction #fiftyshades)
video


The writing is awful. And I already dislike the characters.  And we didn't get to any sex scenes.  But, the giggles and snorts of the 50-something woman next to me, her full knowledge of just exactly what we were reading and her enjoyment of it, made the entire experience worth it.

In Georgetown, we got off the bus to get beverages for our sore reading throats.  And chocolate.  


And chatted while waiting for a bus back to CapFringe (and some more 50 shades).  My CapFringe review:  Did it live up to its description? Did "hanging out with one of DC's top performance artists" "change my life"?  Not really.  Did I "explore friendship ... through 'friend building'"? Not really. But I laughed and got a kick out of doing something I wouldn't ordinarily do with friends or on a date. Verdict:  5 stars. Better than most first dates where I don't think there will be a second date.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

5 Shades of CapFringe


Ah, Capital Fringe Festival, you do not disappoint!  My CapFringe 2012 so far:

The Good: "We, Tiresias": well-written, well-staged, and well-acted retelling/reimagining of the life of the oracle Tiresias, played at various stages in his/her life by 3 actors, who alternately play the other characters, including Oedipus.   Also good: "Dead Man's Mambo": a slapshtick-y commedia dell-arte improv mashup by a very talented actor, with the put-upon deadpan foil perfectly played by the young artist I'm housing this year.
I recommend you see both of these in the few remaining performances each has next week.
Also good, BFF with Brian Feldman, performance artist and my new BFF!


Stay tuned for my separate post on BFF.

The Bad: "A Year of Giving": the writer/lead "actor" did a very interesting project (give away $10/day each day for a year) about 2-3 years ago.  He blogged about it.  But he can't act, and it comes across as schmaltzy on stage. It should have remained a blog.

The Ugly:  "City of God" (the David Koresh opera). Omg, where to start with this disaster? The recorded (but original) music was too loud, so I couldn't hear the voices all the time.  The singers/actors were very young, and though most could sing well, none really acted well. The guy playing Koresh pranced about stage like a gay pride parade float reject.  A cult leader needs more swagger, less swish. The story/lyrics were stilted. The composer can't sing, yet cast himself as a major character. Just, ugh. (Though the penultimate scene, a duet between the baritone FBI negotiator and tenor Koresh, was powerful, vocally, even if I didn't understand the lyrics because these singers didn't enunciate well and were overpowered by the taped music.)

But even in disappointing (terrible, awful) productions, you, CapFringe, have provided a venue to talent who may just need more time on stage so that next time (or the time after that) they may write or produce or direct or act or sing in a worthy production.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Help! I've rented a performance artist for 2 hours and don't know what to do!


It's that time of year again: the Capital Fringe Festival. Three weeks of sometimes amazing, sometimes awful, experimental and low-budget theater (and opera, dance, and puppetry) in sometimes-airconditioned venues.  All only blocks from my home!

And I need your help this year.  I bought a ticket to "BFF," a show by performance artist Brian Feldman.  (Read this WaPo article for more about the artist.)  The show is billed like this:

It could change your life. Perhaps the most conceptual offering in Capital Fringe history, BFF explores friendship through two hour "friend building" excursions. Only 50 people can attend these one-on-one experiences, hanging out with one of DC's top performance artists.

Yup -- for the low CapFringe ticket price of $17 (but free for me because I got a free pass for housing an artist again this year*), I am going to hang out with my new BFF Brian Feldman.  For 2 hours.  Just the 2 of us.  Next Friday, during rush hour. But wtf should we do?

I love the idea.  It's taking me -- a non-artist, typically passive audience member -- and making me think about the art in advance.  And then live it for 2 hours.  And I have no fucking idea what we should do for 2 hours.  All I know is (1) it's gotta be something nearby (which includes lots of good stuff: my house, including gym/pool; the mall; museums; white house; supreme court; MLK main library; tons of restaurants, grocery stores, bars, etc.); and (2) it can't feel like a date (I do enough dating already).

I've run it by some friends, and here's the ideas so far:

  1. Use this as an opportunity for me to re-learn how to ride a bicycle, with the encouragement of my new BFF.  (I haven't ridden a bike in over 20 years.)  Then maybe hang out at my building's rooftop pool.
  2. Read 50 Shades of Grey (which my mom just mailed to me) together, aloud. In the Safeway. Until we're kicked out.  Then maybe hang out at my building's rooftop pool.
  3. Protest something absurd.  Like "Transportation." Possibly at Union Station. (Or the Supreme Court).
  4. Go see a Fringe show together.
  5. Volunteer somewhere, maybe picking up trash. 
  6. No matter what I do, make my new BFF think I'm earnest about it.
  7. Live tweet or Facebook or Instragram or film what we do.
  8. Obvs, become Facebook friends with my new BFF.

What do y'all think of these?  And I'd love to hear more ideas.  (And, btw, the 50 Shades of Grey idea is far and away the idea most people love so far.)

*For the 3rd year in row, I've volunteered to house an unknown-to-me Fringe artist from out of the DC area.  This time a composer from Philadelphia. And, for the 3rd year in a row, to the naysayers I say: "If I'm murdered, you can't say 'I told you so' because I'm already dead."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Awful Things* #3: Segregated Spas

I have a long list of pet peeves that includes: (1) being told to have a blessed day; (2) people who spit while walking on sidewalks; (3) tourists, generally; and (4) the use of "their" as a singular pronoun to avoid dealing with gender problems of "his," "hers" or "his or hers." 

Not on the pet peeve list are: (1) passing a bed of black eyed susans on the walk home from work today;

(2) the ominous sky before a big storm before dusk tonight (though why I took the picture in instagram is beyond me);

(3) instagram, generally; and (4) spas, generally.  I love spas.  The spas where I can get a no-frills massage behind a screen, the fancy spas with lush massage and other treatment rooms and plush robes where they bring me everything I need, the spas with multiple whirlpools and saunas, all spas, all of them.  

Except ... segregated spas are awful. Not spas segregated by race (though those are truly awful, if such places actually exist any more).  But spas segregated by gender.

I was recently at a spa in Brooklyn where men and women were supposed to wear bathing suits because we were all together in the tubs and whirlpools and steam rooms and saunas.  Nice, but who wants to wear a suit in a spa?  That's as counterproductive to the relaxation experience as wearing a suit while swimming out to the middle of Walden Pond at midnight on a warm August evening to lay back and watch the meteor showers.**  Why ruin a such an experience with a swim suit?

Years ago I was at a Turkish spa in Berlin that was segregated -- women only -- and we all luxuriated in the decadence of it and our nakedness.  And I've heard from friends about Korean spas here which are the same (though possibly less decadent than the one in Berlin.  But isn't most everything in DC less decadent than in Berlin?).  What I don't get is why we can't all luxuriate together.  

I met a guy at my building's rooftop pool this last weekend who's opening a spa in our neighborhood.  Yes, he was wearing a suit when I met him.  As was I.  Anyway, the spa will be in one of these buildings across from Busboys and Poets:


I'm not sure if it will be where the now-defunct(?) stripclub ("Louis' the Rogue") was, or next door.  But it should open in a few months.  I'm very excited.  Though I hope when it does open, it's naked and non-segregated.  

Have a blessed day,
Jess

* "Awful things" are a sporadic list of things (I usually like) picked by Disgruntled Co-worker for me to write about how awful they are.  
** Not that I'm admitting to having done anything like this -- that might not be approved of by the fine folks working at Walden Pond -- during my years in the Boston area.  Or encouraging others to do so.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bummer

Just heard Zola Wine Kitchen is closing, effective immediately (though wine store will stay open thru end of week). ZWK, you will be missed.

UPDATE: heard the news from a ZWK insider I ran into after work today that the place is being bought by an unnamed restauranteur.  My $$ is on Jose Andres, who has 1/2 dozen other restaurants within those few Penn Quarter blocks around Zola Wine Kitchen.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Awful things #2: vinyl records

This the the 2nd in a series of "awful things" chosen by Disgruntled Coworker for me to write about.  He thinks he's choosing things I like.  He prolly thinks I like vinyl because he thinks I'm nostalgic for all things from my youth.  And all "authentic" things.  But I agree with him on this one. 

I have a box of vinyl records somewhere in my momma's garage back in Texas.  It doesn't matter if the south Texas heat hasn't gotten to 'em yet.  Because I ruined them well before that.  Over 20 years ago, a friend and I got the brilliant idea to black out the the centers of all my records. You know, where the name of the band, the album, and the songs are.  And then, we placed all the records in the wrong sleeves.

When you went to play a record, it was a total crapshoot.  Think you're gonna hear 1 of the 5 records in that Bruce Springsteen and the E St Band Live 1975-85 box set? Nope, it's Men at Work.  (Yes, those are both in the collection.) (No, no comment on what substances may have played a role in this brilliant decision making.)  It was sort of a pre-iPod "shuffle."

And, it was also a sort of pre-iTunes playlist.  Because, the records weren't randomly in the wrong sleeves.  There was a method to it.  Looking for AC/DC's Back in Black? (Also in the collection.)  Why don't you try looking in the Michael Jackson Bad album sleeve?  (Also in the collection.)  You know, because Michael wore that awesome black jacket on the album cover.

But, iPod/Nano/iPhone/iTunes:  SO much better than vinyl.  Because I can indulge my caterpillar-sized attention span and shuffle to another song in nanoseconds, while searching online and making a phone call and taking a picture at the same time.  Sometimes, even taking a picture of the internet access itself.  Check out these crazy wifi networks:


I'm guessing the 3rd one ("Bear Heaven") is related to the Eagle, the gay leather bar here in the neighborhood.  And I saw "Goodbye Jews!" in Park Slope, Brooklyn last month:


In my old vinyl filing "system," I would have filed Ozzy's Blizzard of Ozz under "Goodbye Jews!"  Because it has "Goodbye to Romance" on it, obvs.

OMG.  All the old vinyl songs are on my various iDevices.  I need new music.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Awful things #1: food trucks

I have been given a new blogging mission: write about "awful things" chosen by disgruntled coworker.  His first three topics prove what an ass he is, since they are all things that are demonstrably NOT awful.  #afterbirth

For this inaugural edition of "awful things," I present: food trucks.  Which, according to the best real-time mapping website of food truck tweets in DC,  are awfully far away from me today on my day off.  Which sucks, because I only went to 1 food truck this week and it's such a beautiful day to grab some food and eat outdoors in the sun.

Oh well, I enjoyed the sun during a 5 mile run earlier today past the Lincoln and WWII Memorials and Washington Monument, where I saw not 1, but 2 tourists taking pictures of the monument as their penises.  Not this Monument penis:


because they were human.  I really need to run with a camera.  Running tally of these morons I've seen on the mall:  4!

So, food trucks.  The problem with getting delicious, cheap food from a food truck and enjoying it al fresco on a beautiful spring day is that you miss out on the ambiance of an indoor place like the Saints Paradise Cafeteria here in the Mt. Vernon Square neighborhood:


Love is the main ingredient (in the southern and soul food) because it's part of the United House of Prayer for All People church.  Customers go through the cafeteria line to get the food -- like pigs feet and fried chicken and greens and mac and cheese -- in styrofoam containers.  (No biodegradable recycled paper containers like the food trucks use here!)  But in the seating area is a permanently-set table for the church's pastor, with gold-leafed china and glass:


That type of display is just not possible in or on a food truck!



Sunday, April 1, 2012

Million (give or take 999,800) Mustache March


Thanks to one of the neighborhood blogs, I learned about the "Million Mustache March" taking place in the area today.  Obvs, given my fondness for scruffy hipster types, I went to check out what I hoped would be some fine displays of ironic facial hair.  The 100 or so (I'll be generous here) 200 marchers were, indeed, a scruffy little band, with ironic stick-on facial hair,


ironic chants ("occupy your upper lip"),

video

ironic signs,


and, unfortunately, ironic spandex.  Red spandex on men:  NOT GOOD:


But, given the dearth of cute hipsters to my liking, the best thing I saw were these non-ironically-retro-dressed Christian proselytizers along the route, who put down their pamphlets and instruments and watched in stunned silence:


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Eritrea next door


I was trying to find the number for the Eritrean Civic and Cultural Center  because I was craving some of their delicious beef and collards and wanted to know their hours.  Why the hell don't they have a website? I ended up looking for them via the AroundMe app.  To shortcut it, I just entered "Eritrean," figuring, since it was "around me," the app would find it.  Nope.  It found Eritrea. Almost 7000 miles away.  Eventually found the number for the tastiest frickin ethiopian-esque food in my neighborhood via my map function.  Go there!  Soon!

And UPDATE:  I saw my second dumbass taking a picture of the Washington Monument as his penis while running this weekend.  Not this chick:

Because he was a man.  Running tally:  2!

Monday, September 19, 2011

My monument is more unique!

I run now, and my route takes me down to the mall. Not the Texarkana Central Mall, which will cease to exist on January 25, 2032, when Jesus appears, but the National Mall. As of today, I am going to keep statistics of how many men I see while I'm running who are taking photos of the Washington Monument as their penises. Tally as of today: one. Not this guy:



or this guy:

or even this guy:

but like these guys, all of whom I found in the totally safe Google image search for "Washington Monument Penis." Apologies for not taking my own pic. I was running and didn't have my dispatching equipment with me. Though he did. Ba da bing!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

End of Days! Where's my Nicotine?!!?!!


In preparation for Hurricane Irene (or, more likely when it hits DC, Tropical Storm Irene), I ventured down the street to the Safeway to get the necessities: cigarettes, pain killers, and peaches.  Saw the sticker above on a sign on my way.  Apropos, no?  The nice folks at the Ace Hardware on 5th by the Safeway had some good advice:  PANIC!  



It seems folks were, indeed, following that advice.  The Safeway was packed.  You'd think the world was ending.  The lines were all the way to the back of the store at every check out, much like they were before the Snowpocalypse 2 winters ago.  Got a kick out Safeway's placement of the Nicorrette next to the menstrual pain relievers:


But couldn't take the lines, so ditched the peaches, which require actual check out with a scale, and went to non-scaled customer service for the true necessity: cigs.  Then went down the street for a sub from Taylor Gourmet. You know, in case the power goes out and I can't microwave stuff in my usual mode of high-class cooking.  My hurricane preparedness tableau:


Yes.  I plan to read about popes while eating a sub, smoking cigs, and watching the rain.  

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dispatch: A Very Special Episode

A friend of the Dispatch had a recent unexpected/unwelcome proof of her fertility that she has decided to take care of in the Roe v Wade kind of way. Your Dispatcher, knowing how chocolate cake makes everything better, ordered a cake for the occasion. I was having a busy weekend though and forgot to stop by the bakery of my local Safeway (which, obvs, makes the cheapest, moistest, most delicious cakes) to order the cake. So I called in the order:
Me: I'd like to order the smallest chocolate cake with white icing you can write on.
Safeway Bakery Employee: No problem. What do you want written?
Me: "Congrats on your abortion"
SBE: Uh .... okay ....
Me: With an exclamation point.
SBE: Uh ... you want balloons on that? Flowers?
Me: Balloons! Yes, please! Make it festive!
As you see above, it's not exactly what I ordered, but it's close enough. More depersonalized but also more celebratory of Roe v Wade, generally. You know: "Yay! You can still get one of these!" And the balloons are wonderful, no? And the confetti on the sides too:


Certainly, those cracks aren't the best finishing on the cake, but it's definitely festive! The friend of the Dispatch for whom this cake was made is, like me, from Texas, where, instead of Safeway, the grocery store of choice is HEB. And she worked at HEB where this sort of cake (balloons, confetti) was called an HEB Fiesta cake. Today's lesson: Every abortion needs a Fiesta cake.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

It's not mixed religious metaphor, it's theater.

I love the Cap Fringe theater festival. The hodgepodge of shows, the invasion of the theater folk, and the under-air-conditioned venues are all 1 or 2 blocks away! (And, in all fairness, this year the shows are almost fully air-conditioned. Almost.) Just saw this Greek goddess in front of this big cross in front of the fringe-friendly Methodist church down the street.

Fave show so far: Fat men in skirts. It had it all: incest, cannibalism, humor. Worst Fringe show ever: Hotel Fuck. It was like waiting for godot, with full frontal nudity but less interesting.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Jesus LOVES Unicorns!


Disgruntled coworker was at an amusement park in rural Pennsylvania.  Family-friendly place.  You know: no bikini tops.  NO THONGS.

He texted me: There's an airbrush studio here, any requests?  I wanted Jesus riding a unicorn, but we were limited to designs from their book.  Co-worker and I improvised and, Behold!, my new shirt:



A family-friendly airbrusher in Pennsylvania now believes this will be worn to official church functions by a my little pony-loving hipster.  Presumably with grannie pants.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Um, no thanks. Think I'll skip that party.

Seen today on K St, a "party wagon":


A man (guessing on the gender) who refers to his van as a "party wagon" comes across to me as a teenager or a creepy (possibly impotent) perv.  Maybe of the pedo variety.  Guessing again, but this isn't a teen (unlikely to pay for vanity plates).  Or a pedo (too many windows).  But, ew.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

That's what she said IV: A new hope

Overheard in plane, from man struggling to get bag into overhead bin:

Somehow it always fits. You just have to ease it in.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Don't these people have the open table app?

The groupon for Kushi, my neighborhood's James Beard nominee restaurant, expires tomorrow. At 5:45, there's a line out the door.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Aren't you glad Urine DC?


I've been in DC over 2 years now and thought I was past comparing it to NY. But, two things brought NY to mind recently. First, the folks taking art pix (in pig mask!) in front of the street art down the street. My pic of their pic of the art (plus pig!) was so meta it felt more NY than DC.


Second, I just had to pop into a downtown Metro station to reload my transit card. Since I'm within walking distance (or a quick bus or cab ride) to work and most places I tend to go, I don't ride the metro all that often. So I may be speaking naively when I say the metro here is more comfortable and smells better than nyc's subway. But, today? Overwhelming odor of urine. Not quite on par with what I remember of august in ny (despite my best efforts to bury those scent memories), but it is, after all, only early spring.


UPDATE:  ok, it's not a pig. It would be better if it were a pig.  For a better (non-cellphone) pic of the street art behind them, go here.