Thursday, July 1, 2010

“One To Another”

As I’m sitting here preparing to write my review of Wednesday night’s Charlatans UK show at the 930 Club, the awesome rendition they played of “One to Another” keeps cycling through my head. I am sitting here wrestling with the urge to hop in my car and zip up 95N to see them play again tonight in Philadelphia. In essence going from one show to another.

The Charlatans are one of my favorite bands of all time. They are my favorite Brit-pop band, partially because they’ve stuck it out so long and evolved in style to transcend the whole genre. When their first album Some Friendly dropped I was in High School and it changed my life, widening my musical universe far beyond my strict Punk roots. Ultimately it was seeing the Charlatans play live some many years ago that sealed the deal. The Charlatans live are amazing, one of the most fun, danceable, party-spirited performances you’ll ever see. And somehow they’ve managed to keep the energy going now for 17 years.

Wednesday night’s show was spectacular. Probably the best show I’ll see this year. I can’t imagine it being topped by anyone. And I say that out of honest reviewing – not just because of my affinity for the band. Their performance was spot on – playing, energy, attitude, fun. Tim Burgess has gone from awkward Madchester teen, bouncing around with bangs a-swaying, to the epitome of cool, a Pop statesman in his prime. Burgess’ presence on stage with black derby hat and hands in his pockets was magnetic. The crowd followed his every tic as he belted out songs in a range of voice that is captivating and mind-boggling. Burgess had a smile on his face the whole time, occasionally waving to crowd members and jokingly busting out in slow-mo renditions of his old dance steps. It was great to see the guy performing in such a good mood.

The rest of the band always play with a kind of background presence, but their instrumentation is front and center. Year’s ago I called these guys the ultimate jam band – not in the hippy-trippy sense, but just in the down-home, kick-ass, dance-your-butt-off style that gets you moving every time. I often complain about DC crowds talking too much and not dancing enough at shows. Well the 930 Club wasn’t nearly sold-out for this show, but the couple of hundred folks who were there were all fans, and I haven’t seen a DC crowd that enthused and dancing that much in years.

For Charlatans fans the set-list was incredible. It was like a dream-come-true set-list. The Charlatans played the high-notes from most of their albums, including their rarely played-live original single. Hearing the opening cymbal’s to “The Only One I Know” was a wonderful live music moment. It is so rare to hear live that every fan in the crowd started cheering and literally jumping for joy. It was a moment that matches hearing Radiohead bust out the rarely played “Creep” at Merriweather Pavilion a few years back. Moments like these are what get me going back for more every time. I love live music and there couldn’t be a better reminder of that than this Charlatans’ show.

Now to drive to Philly or not – decisions, decisions.

Originally published on May 19, 2006

I did not go to Philly. I really wish I had though. This was the last time The Charlatans played in DC. I have had tickets to two different tours o theirs that have canceled since this show.

Optimism Prime

As you may or may not know, I am looking forward to the Transformers movie with much optimism. I don't want to get to psyched and be let down, but so far all news has been good. From Michael Bay directing, to the advanced cgi test reel, to Bernie Mac getting cast as a voice (hopefully as Jazz).

Anyway I just got another interesting tidbit. Michael Bay the director just bought himself ownership of a Special Effects company. This is interesting because it used to belong to James Cameron. It is also interesting because usually after an FX firm makes a mind-blowing movie they get a lot of work for the next few years which translates into record profit. Well, I think Michael Bay bought this company because of Transformers. I think or hope rather that Michael Bay bought into the company to share in the profits that Transformers will bring them.

This sign of confidence from Bay gets me really excited about the quality of the FX in the new Transformers. Here's to hoping!

Originally posted on May 16, 2006 on Myspace.

The effects in Transformers 1 & 2 are incredible. I think the first flick is enjoyable and the second is unwatchable drek.

NSA Record Hundreds of Concert Goers “Chatter”!

Well not really, but in their obsession with “chatter” the dubious organization would have recorded a ton at last night’s Mono/Pelican show at the Black Cat. In what can only be the rudest crowd since the Mum show back in ‘04, it seemed a huge majority of the crowd were more interested in themselves than in Mono, this wonderful band from Japan.

Everyone was talking through Mono’s beautiful instrumental pieces which made their quiet guitar and drum orchestrations sound more like Mogwai’s “Young Team”, complete with ‘chatter’ samples, than Mono’s “Are You There?” (which is the album the Mono fans were paying to hear played). Fortunately, unlike Mum who rarely go into decibel levels louder than a delicate whisper, Mono songs often swell into long extended noisy climaxes which were so impressive and loud that the world of disrespectful, talkative, jerk-wads dropped away sporadically.

’s set was a shorter version of their 2005 show in Baltimore (which made #1 on my year end list). This group keep getting better and better, as demonstrated by their new album “Are You There?” and last night’s show. At one point I was thinking that Mono have surpassed Mogwai in perfecting the post-rock tsunami-swell effect, which if is truly the case then the grasshopper has now become the master.

Oddly enough, after Mono’s set, half of the noisy jerks left! I guess they had achieved their cool-points by paying $12 to be seen not listening to Mono and decided to hit the pike.

That exodus stream-lined the crowd for Pelican nicely, who put on a stunner of a set to a crowd who were mightily into it.

Pelican’s set was book-ended by two perfect songs. The first being a barn-burner power piece that had to be heard to believe. It was clear right out of the gate that Pelican were here to blow us away. Pelican are an endurance band, their songs are punishing in a long-trek sans shoes through snowy Rockies kind-of-way. Their last song was equally powerful, but not as in-your-face as they relied on sophisticated guitar sonics, stretching their sound from power to soul-tingling beauty. It’s always nice to see a guitarist going at his strings with a cello bow, the sign of a real guitar-geek and sonic-explorer.

It would be funny if the NSA had been recording last night’s show. I can imagine two dudes in a van listening in with head-phones.

Mono begins: Agent A says to Agent B “Listen to that crowd chatter, we’re getting a gold mine of intelligence here!”.

Mono finishes in a blaze of glory: Agent B yanks off his head-phones and shouts “Jesus that’s Loud!”

Pelican begins: Agent A spits out his coffee in shock!

Pelican ends: Agent B is whimpering on the floor in a helpless pool, Agent A is deaf.

Originally published on May 12, 2006.

Rude, talking crowds are the bane of my existence.

Keep Them Out Of Sunlight

A quick reminder to DC post-rock fans that Mogwai are playing the 930 Club tonight. A show I’ll miss unfortunately due to an impending paper deadline. But then I saw that coming, so I made sure to catch them in Baltimore back in March.

You can go here to read my review of that show, if you’re looking for a glimpse of what you might be in for tonight. Of course when you read that review keep in mind that the sound system at the 930 Club destroys SONAR’s and that when Mogwai played the here in 2003 it was one of the best sets of all time. So while B’more was a good show, I bet tonight’s is going to be a great one.

@ 930 Club

Originally published on May 10, 2006.

Bird Attack II: The Revenge

As some of our readers may remember my car was attacked by a giant bird last April.

Well, I guess it is that bird attack time of year again, because I just stumbled on this blog entry over at Sweet & Sour where their DC author was attacked by a murder of crows while trying to enter her house!

Where will these crazed birds strike next, a phone booth? It’s beginning to feel like our very own DC version of The Birds. Where’s a local Hitchcock when you need one?

Originally published on May 10, 2006.

Too bad, the blog I mention Sweet & Sour is offline in 2010.

All The President’s Garbage-Men

Only in DC would this happen.

Local garbage-man Randy Hopkins discovered an intact, highly-detailed, 30-page security plan for George W. Bush’s visit to Florida in the trash!

The plan was found in the garbage, during trash collection, hours before Bush’s trip and contained detailed information about the President’s transportation time-tables, decoys vehicles, back-up vehicles, and protection. The report also contained the exact location of the nuclear “foot-ball” (the remote nuclear launch control box) for the entirety of the trip.

Garbage-man Hopkins, out of “fear of reprisal” from the Secret Service and the White House, reported the find immediately to Channel 9 news. Channel 9 didn’t report details of the security leak until after the President’s trip was safely completed.

Hopkins summed up the problem of finding highly sensitive intelligence in the garbage thusly:

“I saw locations and names and places where the President was going to be. I knew it was important. And it shouldn’t have been in a trash hole like this,” he said, “We’re going through a war, and if it would have fell into the wrong hands at the right time, it would have been something really messy for the President’s sake.”

Originally published on May 10, 2006.

More Reviews

Just finished reading The Key To Rebecca by Ken Follett. It was a pretty decent WWII espionage novel set in Cairo. A ruthless Nazi agent stealing secrets by whoring out a belly-dancer helps Rommel get within 30 miles of Cairo. An uptight British spy-catcher tries to stop him before the Desert Fox takes over all of Egypt. There was a heavy romance/sex perversion angle to this thriller which is central to the story. I would have traded that aspect in for more action, but hey what can ya do? In all though, the book was a pretty good Spy vs. Spy thriller.

Also saw Mission Impossible III yesterday. It was pretty good, but not quite as great as the reviews are making it out to be. Part I is still the best while it is safe to say Part II is now the worst. The best aspect of the new flick is that they actually use team-work to complete their missions in this one. The first and second operations are awesome and felt a lot like the old show. JJ Abrams borrowed a lot of "Alias" plot elements and gave them a big screen twist, which worked pretty well. There are some very cool parts in this flick, so I recommend it. Unfortunately the final fight is anti-climatic to the extreme and a few parts of the movie felt uneven. There was some nice music in this one tho, surprisingly giving nods back to the early series' atmospheric jams.

In other news, the Superman Returns trailer on the big screen blew me away. That movie is going to be like Spiderman I & 2. It is going to be a perfect super-hero movie.

Unfortunately the X-Men III preview looked like utter crap shown back-to-back with it. That movie is going to be a low-rent disappointment, I can feel it in every bone in my body. Which will be a damn shame and a wasted ending to a franchise that was headed in the right direction with the first two flicks.

Originally posted on May 9, 2006 on Myspace.

Hmmm...I was a little off on the Superman prediction.

Dead in the West

I just finished reading "Dead in the West" by Joe R. Lansdale .

Lansdale is one of the few writers who I consider a hero who is still cranking out books at a great rate. Whenever I read something by him I get inspired to write and "Dead in the West" is no exception.

"Dead in the West" is a book I have been trying to find a copy of for years and years. It was originally published back around 1984 and has been out of print ever since. Finally it has been reprinted in a nice deluxe hardback with an awesome original painting for a cover. The book is early Lansdale and it shows. Which is one of the things that most inspires me, the fact that this master wasn't just hatched onto the scene as a master writer, but instead evolved in skill over several years. "Dead in the West" shows evidence of Lansdale's brilliant imagination and hints at the great wordsmith he would become in the late 80's and 90's.

The book is a hard-boiled Western Zombie apocalypse tale. Yes you read that correctly. It's like Pale Rider meets Night of the Living Dead drunk on tequila. Lansdale partially dedicates the book to Jonah Hex, the meanest hombre to ever stalk the pages of DC Comics. The story reads quick, a Preacher Gunslinger who's lost his faith rides into a cursed two-horse town and ends up battling an army of zombies with his six-shooter and a shotgun. It's a pure gory blast and I recommend it to everyone.

Originally posted on May 4, 2006 on Myspace.

With the long-running zombie craze of the 00's I am amazed this older novel has not been re-issued and discovered by the ravenous masses yet.

Opposite Sighting

If you are looking for some fun tonight, check out The Opposite Sex playing at DC9. The Opposite Sex are a great DC band that I was pleasantly surprised with back when they opened for New Model Army a year ago.

Back then I described them as “a good mix of Joy Division, Dead Kennedy’s, and believe it or not early B-52’s.” I’ve been waiting to see them again ever since.

The show is $8 and they are playing with Death By Sexy and Le Pussyfoots.

Originally published on May 4, 2006.


This is incredible!

A transcript of Colbert from Comedy Central's "Colbert Report" and "the Daily Show" addressing the Washington Press Corp dinner with most of the White House staff, GWB, and half of Washington's Power Elite in attendance.

This guy is hilarious. I can't believe the shit he said to their faces! This takes some time to read but is really worth it.

Originally posted on May 3, 2006 on Myspace.

One of the best and most audacious uses of free speech ever!

Movie Round-up II

- Confidence - directed by James Foley who did Glen Garry Glenn Ross and The Corrupter; starring Rachel Weisz and Dustin Hoffman. Pretty decent slick dialouge grifter movie. I wouldn't own it but I'd definitely recommend it for an afternoon watch.

- Layer Cake - About what I expected. Pretty good UK crime movie. Sometimes trying to be too slick for its own good, but for the most part is spot on. The Serbian dude should have been more awesome, although the sniper part is really cool. I almost feel like Daniel Craig is the least interesting part of this movie. His character was pretty basic. But still, there are some great parts in this flick.

- King Kong (2006) - This greatest of the B-movies loses a lot of luster on the tiny screen. For one the screenplay weaknesses become more glaring. But what really surprised me on second viewing was that the Jackson filmed this movie so huge that it is almost too big for a TV screen. Every sequence, from NY to the vast empty sea, to Skull Island is set on a huge scale that when it is reduced for the television layers and layers of detail appear small and diminutive. Maybe that will change if I ever get a super-big fancy tv, but on 32 inches it didn't look right to me. And because of that, a lot of the fantasy of the movie was gone.

- All The President's Men - This movie is so good that I watched it twice in three days. My god it is a masterpiece. The best aerial filming of DC in any movie ever!

Originally posted on May 1, 2006 on Myspace.

Have since re-watched King Kong (2006) on Blu-ray on a large TV and the magic is back!


Excerpt from a story I'm working on:

The peacekeepers set up their blockades to keep the madness contained; to keep the machete squads in and the mercenaries and maniacs of the world out. Rwanda was a spark that could have lit all the brush in Africa ablaze with unchecked, unguided violence. That was the obvious problem and the blockades were the solution. But no one expected the far-reaching attraction that the genocide had around the globe. As if evil attracts evil. Killers the world over felt a magnetic pull towards the absolute blood-red maelstrom of chaos that the peacekeepers were trying to contain.

Every day pedophiles, sadists, rapists, and butchers flooded Rwanda. Hoping to indulge in their sickest thrills amidst a nation gone blood bonanza. Into a world already turned upside down by ethnic violence was inserted the deranged and the cruel of the seven continents. Then mercenaries and arms shipments were added to the mix and total anarchy was the result.

Janney was one of six operators authorized to go past the blockades into the haze of red that was Rwanda. His job was to track down known blockade violators and bring them out. Dead or alive. To a man like Janney, nine times out of ten, dead was much easier than alive.

Originally posted on April 28, 2006 on Myspace.

More of my fiction.

Incredibly Lame Prizes

Metro kicks off it’s Prize Patrol this morning at the Gallery Place Metro station between 8 and 9 this morning as part of their 30th Anniversary Celebration. The Prize Patrol will visit one Metro Station each morning for a whole year selecting Metro Riders at random to receive special prizes.

You too could be the lucky recipient of a Metro Key-chain, Metro Notebook, or the grand poo-bah of prizes – a Metro Lapel Pin.

Ooooooh. Ahhhhhh.

(Note the use of periods rather than exclamation points, indicating my lack of enthusiasm)

Originally published April 28, 2006.

Movie Round-Up

Watched a ton lately.

: One of the best ever.

The Ballad of Cable Houge
: The meanest comedy ever made. A looked over Sam Peckinpah minor masterpiece with a brilliant performance by Jason Robards Jr.

Major Dundee
(The Extended Restored Never-Before-Released Version): Wow! I never saw this because I always new it was not released as Peckinpah intended. This new DVD is a director's cut made from his notes with a new score. Jesus on a stick is this fucking good! This movie is just awesome - in a "what a great fucking story idea" way. Josh you have to rent this! Chuck Heston vs Richard Harris vs French Irregulars in Mexico vs Apaches! Amazing levels of hatred in this flick. This is an epic Civil War fucked up scenario like only Peckinpah could truly deliver. I am so glad they restored this to the be the film he meant it to be..

: The power went out at home and there was nothing to see conveniently except this movie. It is a really dumb comedy, with new lows in fart humor. However there were a few very funny lines. I'm not going to recommend it though.

: Finally saw this movie. Meh. More a thriller than anything else. Not horror at all. But well executed as a flick. Just not as mind-blowing as it was made out to be.

: I don't know why I convinced myself to Netflix this. I think because Clive Owen is cool and RZA and Xzibit are in it. I dunno. This movie is very slick looking crap. It is diarrhea. Seriously, don't waste your time. It is one of the lamest plots EVER with one of the wimpiest, whiniest heroes EVER. This should have been a Michael Douglas vehicle. Just another sleazy middle-aged dude in over-his-head doing stoopid things to hide his affair movie. LAME ASS SHIT.

Hidalgo: The first 15 minutes of this suck. Then the movie kicks in and it is just pure, silly, adventure. Honor in the desert. What more can I ask for on a Saturday afternoon? Fun, fun, fun.

Originally posted on April 27, 2006 on Myspace.

Don't Waste Yr Time Reading This

Current mood:Feeling Lame for Feeling Lame

Depression sux. Fuk it.

Originally posted on April 26, 2006 on Myspace.


Personally I love the fact that I am becoming a trained historian. One effect of my training and studies that I have discovered is that when I am working on a large research project my attention and imagination, basically all my brain power, becomes focused like a laser on my subject.

Which is cool because it enables me to see connections in my research that I might otherwise not have imagined or realized. However, this focus kindof eliminates a lot of the random imaginative energy that I usually have firing off in all directions.

Hence the recent lack of blogs. My brain is all-Congo, all-the-time lately as I plow through this fascinating and huge project. I delivered a nice 15 minute oral presentation to a group of my History major peers today on my findings and everyone seemed quiet impressed, as did our professor. The positive reaction made me feel good, it made me feel like I am good at what I am doing, but also it made me feel like sacrificing some of my random, directionless, brain-power to achieve a higher level of skill in one area is worth it.

I guess my days as a dilettante are coming to a close.

Originally posted on April 21, 2006 on Myspace.

Daydream National Registry

The Library of Congress announced its 2006 inductees to the National Sound Registry this week, which included Sonic Youth’s seminal 1988 album "Daydream Nation". The National Sound Registry’s mission is to preserve recordings “that are culturally, historically, or aesthetically important and/or inform or reflect life in the United States” for all future generations of Americans.

How cool is that?

The LOC website describes this important 80’s underground album as such:

“Pioneer members of New York City’s clangorous early 1980s No Wave scene, Sonic Youth are renowned for a glorious form of noise-based chaos. Guitarists Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo had previously performed with Glenn Branca’s large guitar ensembles, and their alternative guitar tunings and ringing harmonies attest to this apprenticeship. On Daydream Nation, their third album, the group’s forays into outright noise always return to melodic songs that employ hypnotic arpeggios, driving punk rock rhythmic figures and furious gales of guitar-based noise. Bassist Kim Gordon’s haunting vocals and edgy lyrics add additional depth to the numbers she sings.”

Congrats to Sonic Youth! And way to go Library of Congress for recognizing the impact of modern underground music!

PS- BB, Jimi, and Stevie were also notable additions!

Originally published on April 13, 2006.

I love that this great album is preserved by the LOC!

Attention DC fans of The Boredoms!

The Boredoms are playing a limited 6-date U.S. tour in June! The closest city to us they’ll be hitting is Philadelphia on Friday, June 30th. This post is to give everyone down here, who loves this band as much as I do, a heads-up and a chance to get tickets before they vanish.

Go here to get your $16 ticket to one of the best performances you’ll ever see.

Originally published on April 13, 2006.

The Boredoms are one of the best live bands you will ever see. Just go.


Marcus tagged me to share six embarrassing stories from my past:

1. From kindergarten to 3rd grade I had a friend named BJ Simpcox and everyone used to make fun of us because of his first name. I didn't find out what a blow-job was until I was in 9th grade.

2. In 1st grade I got caught with a couple other kids having a urine fight (complete with light-saber sound effects) in the Verga school bathroom.

3. My mom walked into my bedroom to deliver laundry (without knocking) and caught me in the act of taking my High School girlfriend's bra off for the first time.

4. In 1996 I was stalked by a gay body builder named Saxon.

5. I used to sell sex toys at the Pleasure Place. One time I had to by a Penis Pump for my Dad and Step-Mother at their request.

6. I've seen Dave Matthews in concert. (Not by choice!)

Now I'm supposed to tag 6 others: Craig, Jared, Scott, Steve, Josh, Kate

Originally posted on April 11, 2006 on Myspace.

“Let’s Go Crazy!”

Of course 7 hours later on Friday night I found myself alone, a tad drunk, and walking into another DC institution in search of a cool cola.

Ben’s Chili Bowl rocks for lunch and dinner, but the place really shines in the after-hours. Ben’s packed to the gills, I grabbed a seat with a grinning, near-toothless, old, black man after spotting his arm, adorned with ten or so hospital bracelets, waving me over. I slapped palms with my fellow lost soul and we got to talking. I ordered a soda for each of us and by the time they arrived, the old guy and I were laughing it up.

Ben’s on a late Friday night is my kind of place, music blasting out of the juke-box getting everyone (regardless of walk of life) moving. The smell of grilling half-smokes mixing with cheap perfumes and colognes, the glitz of the Black theater and nite-klub crowds dazzling the inevitable wide-eyed tourists, the homeless toe-tapping and hand-clapping for a hand-out, the rocker kids with chins up showing no fear, and the staff smiling and laughing and making everyone feel at ease. By the end of our talk my toothless friend and I were singing and dancing to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy”, cracking up the four Shaw honeys dancing one booth over, and entertaining just about every one else in our vicinity. At song’s end I finished my cola, gave the ladies a bow, shook hands with Hospital Bracelets, and staggered out the door.

Yeah, late night Ben’s is my kind of place.

Originally published on April 10, 2006.

This was a great night and I am glad to have this post as a record of it. Ben's is the heart of Washington DC!

Obscurus Epistula

On Friday I spent my day doing research in the Manuscript Room at the Library of Congress. I have done research on various projects at the LOC over the years, using almost every one of the library’s different resources, but this was my first opportunity to access their collection of original manuscripts and letters, and I was very impressed.

Every time I go to the Library of Congress, I leave with renewed awe at the fact that such a wonderful research resource is right here in our backyards. But it wasn’t until Friday that I gained a deeper appreciation of just how awesome this resource is.

The Manuscript Room is where researchers (with a stated reason for being there) get to handle original documents from America’s past. The collections contained within are wide-ranging including “rock stars” of the past to minor league nobodies but all have the air of history about them. The Manuscript Room feels like a protected inner-sanctum where respect for the source material is like religion. Getting the privilege to handle 150 year old letters is every historian’s dream and in the Manuscript Room you get that chance. Of course a lot of the collections are preserved on micro-fiche as well, but the originals are always available for comparison if needed.

I am thrilled to have finally had an excuse to use the Manuscript Room at the Library of Congress and hope to have more reasons to research there in the future. If you are a student of history (professional or amateur) I highly recommend taking a trip down there, it makes for a great afternoon.

Originally published on April 10, 2006.

I Met a Faith Healer at the Khyber Pass

DC Michael here again with my review of Th' Faith Healers at the Khyber (took me all weekend to get to a PC).

After a thick traffic, 4 1/2 hour, drive up from Washington and a nightmare of trying to find free or cheap parking around 2nd and Market, my buddy and I entered the Khyber a little tired but still excited for the impending show. The Khyber turned out to be a nice, intimate venue attached to a crusty little rock-n-roll bar - just our sort of place.

We hung out at the bar talking music and listening to the two opening bands, both Philly locals including War on Drugs, who brought out a very large crowd. The first band sounded like the Throwing Muses which we decided was a good thing, then War on Drugs came on and dished out a little Philly Psych for us which sounded pretty nice.

Surprisingly a lot of people left after the two local groups played, leaving a decent sized but plenty of elbow-room crowd for Th' Faith Healers. In the end that worked out nicely for us though as Th' Faith Healers turned out to be extremely danceable.

Th' Faith Healers put on one of the best sets I have ever seen live. Watching this 4-piece from Hampstead, UK rip through the highlights of their discography was awesome. The entire band was on point, as if they had never stopped playing since their 1995 break-up. The rhythm section, bassist Ben Hopkin and drummer Joe Dilworth, laid down a powerful beat that got the entire crowd moving. Vocalist Roxanne sounded perfect, still singing with that sexy mix of brit-pop sweetness and grunge howling. And guitarist Tom Cullinan played with such perfect and seemingly effortless genius that he is by far one of the most impressive axe-players I have ever seen (and I seen a bunch)!

Cullinan created a stunning, wide-ranging, noise-racket with minimal pedals and without changing guitars once during the entire set. Watching this first generation shoegaze master at work really put the new scene of gadget-and-pedal American shoegazers into perspective. Th' Faith Healers are old school and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Th' Faith Healer's set left my friend and I both speechless. At its end we shouted something incomprehensible at each other, jumped in the air, and high-fived in an over-excited music nirvana moment.

After the set, we had the unexpected pleasure of meeting Roxanne who was hanging out at the merch table. Slightly in awe of her, after having just watched her dominate on stage, and having not expected to meet her, therefore having no recording materials or questions prepared, I walked over and introduced myself as a fledgling rock journalist for MetroBlogs and asked her two impromptu questions. What follows are those two questions and my paraphrasing of her answers:

Michael: So what did you and the band think of this limited US tour?

Roxanne: It was a blast (or something to that effect). We didn't expect that much interest in our music in the U.S. anymore but we met appreciative fans at each show.

Michael: Of the six dates you played, which did you enjoy the most?

Roxanne: Actually we played seven dates, two in one day in Austin. I'd say the two best were our second gig in Austin and the gig tonight in Philadelphia. The one in Austin was our first real gig in the U.S. in over 10 years and there was an nervous energy that went away thanks to the great welcome from the crowd. Tonight's gig had that same energy.

Michael: So good energy bookends.

Roxanne: Exactly.

Originally published on April 3, 2006 as a guest writer on Metroblogs: Philadelphia.

This review got me some attention from the band (who reposted it) and from fans of the band all over the US. First time I felt a little big-time.

Go see The Orb

I don’t care what your taste in music is, do yourself a favor this Friday and go see The Orb at the 930 Club.

To keep it simple – The Orb are mind-blowing live. And this from a guy who didn’t even really dig them before seeing them live.

I’ve seen The Orb twice over the years and both times were fan-friggin-tastic! The Orb totally transcend the whole Techno/ Electronica/ IDM universe because for 15 years they have been true originals. Their live sounds and lights are a thing of absolute beauty and their show is a ton of fun to boot.

Unfortunately for me, I’ll be out of town for this show but if I wasn’t I’d be all over it. So if you don’t have anything going on Friday night, go see The Orb. You’ll be glad you did.

The Orb @ 930 Club

Originally published on March 30, 2006.

“I’ve got a million things to say”

The Editors at the 930 Club tonight – holy hell that was a damn fine show!

It was obvious right away in The Editors’ energy level that they wanted to make a good first impression on their first ever DC audience. And boy howdy did they! That was definitely a top 10 of the year worthy performance. The Editors totally commanded the 930 Club’s sound system and audience. By the end of their set the entire house was jumping, clapping, and dancing. It was incredible to watch this super tight band convert an audience that was mainly there for another band. The power and emotion of the band swept over the crowd through the first few numbers and then swallowed the audience whole when they played ‘Camera’ the emotional high point of the night. Once they had the crowd in their hands, the band then dove into some songs of true majesty and force.

Vocalist Tom Smith is an amazing young front man, besides his perfect voice he was all full of herky-jerky spastics and guitar poses. It was as if Smith’s wiry frame was struggling to contain the awesome soul of an ancient rock god. This is a man full of passion for his lyrics and the crowd responded to him in kind. Smith’s presence brought to mind Damon Albarn wooing a 25,000 strong, rain-soaked crowd at the Field Day Festival back in 2004. This kid is a natural.

And the band around him are brilliant. The bass and drum inter-play was incredible, being displayed several times during extended break-downs. In fact the Editor’s toyed with a lot of their catalog, making each song feel unique to this performance. Which to me is the very definition of a great performance. Added to which we got previews of two new Editor’s songs that “may or may not be on the next album”. The first was a slower number, much like ‘Camera’, full of atmosphere and emotion building to a crescendo. The second which I’m going to call ‘Retreat’ was an amazing energy number that sounded like early U2 gone shoegazer.

At the end of the perfect set vocalist Smith thanked the crowd for such a warm reception. He even expressed astonishment that there were some genuine fans in the crowd who had been yelling out b-side requests. Every one of the Editors seemed surprised to have fans “all the way over here in America.”

Needless to say, I am one of them. I really hope these guys come back through DC again so that I can force more of my friends to go see them. The Editor’s are awesome and they deserve every bit of success they get.

Originally published on March 30, 2006.

An amazing show!

First Time For Everything ( I guess)

I never thought in a million years I would mention blumpkins on MetroBlogging DC and yet here it is.

Originally posted on March 29, 2006 on Myspace.

Adieu Lulu’s

Well it seems like Fat Tuesday has finally arrived for DC’s endless Mardis Gras at everyone’s favorite drink til you puke, flash your boobs, date-rape club – Lulu’s.

This Friday will be the last party ever at Lulu’s Club Mardis Gras after the sudden announcement that they will be shutting down due to loss of water supply (what an odd reason). Apparently the closing of Blackie’s Steakhouse and the ensuing construction there will remove the water pipes that connect to Lulu’s.

With the loss of Lulu’s, frat-boys across town are probably wondering where they will find their future hook-ups, but before the closing there will be one last hurrah for them to try to finally score that blumpkin. The madness ends this Friday at a $20 – 8 to 3 – open bar party.

Originally published on March 29, 2006.

This post got me quoted in the Washington Post Express!


In a move that just makes me scratch my head, best new brit band, The Editors are opening tonight for NY’s Stellastarr*, who are mediocre at best.

I’ve been dying to see The Editors play the 930 Club for awhile. Their album The Back Room is a near masterpiece full of love lost lyrics and featuring amazing guitar playing showing influences that range from Joy Division to Echo to U2. Why they are playing second fiddle to Stellastarr* makes little sense to me (must be the asterisk).

But hey, at least we get to see them play right? And early word out of Austin’s SXSW Festival is that The Editors put on one of the best sets of the whole dang week down there.

The Editors opening for Stellastarr*
@ The 930 Club

(The Editors go on at 8:30)

PS- There is a also an after-party hosted by Electro-Tease at DC9 starting conviniently right after the show. Go figure.

Originally published on March 29, 2006.

This concert ended up being a minor life-changer. Editors were that damn good!

The Sucker and the Sage

"The Sucker and the Sage"
by: MHD

So what's what and what's happening?
No matter how many times is the worst of times. Right?
I mean am I right or what?

You coming in here every six days or so
with that slack jawed don't know what,
and I'm supposed to pity ya?

Tell you what and do you one better,
listen straight Tommy me boy. Here comes some wisdom.

You'd do well; never trust a woman as long as you live!

Every time you're in here it's
she did this or she done that. And
what for Tom?

Well I'll give you what for and how and why too.

A peek at the wink and a whiff of the stink, and you're slapping down samoleons like they're doggie treats.
Few days gone by, and you're in here broken hearted and busted.

So what's the deal with 'em,
you're always askin'?

Well it's either they disappear
after they get to know you, or they're taking flight
after they've known the thin of your wallet.

Which do you think it is?

Hey kid, even though Prince Valiant you ain't,
you can't be so bad that a chick won't stick with you
for more than a dip and whirl.

I see you at least once a week, and you
ain't begun to scratch my pecker.

Point being kid,
you got a good heart and
there ain't one female in this mortal coil
that's gonna see that and not take advantage.

You got sap tattooed across your forehead,
and sucker stamped on your back.

How can you walk in here every week
and still not realize that?

Originally posted on March 28, 2006 on Myspace.

This is a monologue I wrote, which I then broke up into a poem.


"I don't even know why this is happening. Why, what did I ever do. Fuck you! Let me go! Get off - please, please no."

Shoved in the gut with something hard, black tape over my eyes, choking on air. Hands clutched to stomach over a growing bruise. A baseball bat maybe? Whacked on the back of the knees, fall down. Crying. Tears well up trapped behind duct tape. Eyes drowning now. Dragged by too many hands to count. Ankles, legs in vice grips. Back of head clunks off of curb onto asphalt. Start kicking. Kick. Get them off. Don't give in. Get a knee in the chest.

"Stay fucking still!"

Wheezing now as I'm dragged on my back over to a car? Truck? Space shuttle? Whatever it is, the engine is running. Suddenly hands have me airborne. I feel like a baby, a baby being rocked. My brain feels like it's floating. My aching body writhing. They half drop me. My left side slams half in half out on a metal frame to the door of whatever they're trying to shove me into.

I shout out in pain. Scream for help. Beg to be set free.

Hanging out of the door frame. Head inches from road, hair tickling it. They rudely drag my upper half in, a door slides shut and we're moving.

Originally posted on February 26, 2006 on Myspace.

Even more of my prose fiction!

Dig Dug

It is hard to pick your nose with broken fingers wrapped in gauze, like shrimp in bacon, ala broken fingers brochette. Doug pulled the antenna out of his cell-phone with his teeth and awkwardly shoved that into his left nostril. He twisted the antenna as best he could with his lame hands, nine broken fingers and a tenth that was sprained. Doug felt the tiny round end of the antenna massaging the inside of his nose and wondered why he had never tried to use such an instrument for this purpose before. The antenna tip explored the walls of Doug's nostril seeking out any obstacle so effectively that the man could not imagine reverting to the finger technique even at the end of his convalescence.

And so Doug sat there all afternoon in his underwear, in his recliner chair, diddling his nose with his cell-phone which was clutched precariously between his two gauze paws like a seal with a beach ball. Dig Doug, dig.

Originally posted on March 26, 2006 on Myspace.

More of my prose fiction.

Revolution Inaction

We inherit ideas, it is what we do with these ideas that defines our generation.

The system we are born into is the only one we will ever know until we study the past and imagine a future.

So should the goal be reform or revolt? Or is there a goal at all?


Revolution comes from generations of crushed expectations not just a bunch of whiny kids with camera phones and DSL.

Examine yourself, get a goal, get off your ass, and get to it.

Or in the words of the immortal Keg Johnson, "Get your life together!"

We have to choose. Are we "Revolution Inaction" or are we a "Revolution In Action"?

Originally posted on March 24, 2006 on Myspace.


College sucks. For every interesting paper you get to research and write, you have to write 5 others on suck-ass mind-numbing topics. Case in point tonight.

I feel like driving my pencil eraser through my forehead.

Originally posted on March 24, 2006 on Myspace.

Remember Remember the 5th of November

I saw the first showing of V for Vendetta at the Uptown last night. I've been very excited for this movie for many reasons and it delivered on most of them.

First the graphic novel kicked ass and the movie does it justice, there are times when it feels just like the comic. Second the story is an amalgam of just about every revolutionary strategy and theory in human history and the movie doesn't hold back from diving into that deep territory. This is really an intelligent indie flick disguised as a blockbuster - I'm not sure how it'll play in Peoria but in DC it played really well.

That's not to say they pulled punches on the violence or action. This is a nice tense action/thriller crammed with conspiracies, atrocities, terrorism, and tons of gray area for the viewer to get lost in, revel in, and ultimately question. There isn't really a right or wrong answer to the hard questions posed by this flick, much like Spielberg's Munich. On the surface this movie plays as an action movie, but the script is so full of intelligent scenes and conversation that I was just eating it up.

At times the ideas in this script are an overload and sometimes the script feels flooded. But while V is tossing out ideas at a dizzying rate, it is kind of fun to try to keep up with his insanity. I think this movie will shine more and more on multiple viewings as different levels of conversation register at different times. Particularly the "V" alliteration monologue in the beginning.

Of course V is going to push buttons with all kinds of people. The movie isn't flawless, there are a few poorly executed scenes (very few). The ending is a tad unrealistic and anti-climactic in an odd way (although the symbolism of the end scene works completely). And some people will probably be stupid about the gay stuff (although I think V is the first movie since Brokeback Mountian to pull it off so well).

Politics aside, the real prize of this movie is the character of V played by a faceless Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith). Hugo Weaving plays this insane character brilliantly. V is a psychopath who happens to be fighting for good but uses very questionable methods. V is eccentric in just about every aspect of his character which plays perfectly against the few moments when his human weakness actually peeks out from behind the mask.

A lot of people may compare this movie to The Matrix because it was written and produced by the Wachowski Brothers. There is a big difference between the films though. While The Matrix contained veiled philosophy masked with super-awesome action effects and bad acting - V for Vendetta has a much more straight-forward exchange of ideas amplified by great acting in every role. Both flicks rock just in different ways.

Originally posted on March 17, 2006 on Myspace.

I freaking love this movie to this day.

Assholes and Elbows

I've got a black eye and it throbs. The world is filled with assholes. Good to know it takes more than four men to take me down. I've still got it.

Originally posted on March 16, 2006 on Myspace.

I got into a pretty epic street fight in Austin, Texas after a Dropkick Murphy's concert at Emo's. I was wearing a sports jacket and fought 4 dudes. They did not win, neither did my eye. Sadly that was the last time I have been to Texas.

Don’t Feed Them After Midnight

Made a quick hop to Baltimore on Tuesday night to see Mogwai play at SONAR. It seemed like these elder statesmen of post-rock were in a beauty over power kind of mood, focusing on many of their shorter mood pieces through-out the night while tossing in a tsunami of sound every third song or so. The now 6 man band were playing as tight as ever as demonstrated by them stopping their final 8-minute guitar barrage on a dime at midnight.

This was the fifth time I’ve seen Mogwai and I was impressed with their song choices at the show. This was a more mature Mogwai, confident in the aura of their more quiet, beautiful pieces as opposed to the brash showmanship of their monolithic power-sets of yester-year. Needless to say this didn’t work for everyone in the crowd and a lot of people started talking during the set. My one suggestion would be that while many of us fans are happy that Mogwai are exploring their more quiet side a bit more on this tour, they may want to re-order the set-list to keep the energy flowing a little better in the room. Oh yeah, and stop playing “Acid Food” that song bites!

Originally published on march 9, 2006.


Classic movies rule. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre rules. The Man Who Would Be King rules. Bonnie and Clyde effin' rules.

I'm on an old movie tear right now. Next on the docket the Controversial Classics DVD Boxset I picked up today which includes: All The President's Men, Network, and Dog Day Afternoon!

Originally posted on March 9, 2006 on Myspace.

At the Mountains of Madness

There is a scene in the 1990 film “Mountains of the Moon” in which a bug crawls into the ear of British explorer John Hanning Speke while he is asleep in his tent in Africa. Speke is jolted awake, he screams, he cries, he thrashes around his tent. He digs at his ear with his fingers, no luck. Then he pours hot wax directly into his ear to try to kill the little bugger, still no luck. Screaming in pain and horror all the while, Speke finally, desperately clutches for his compass and jams the compass needle into his ear. The scene ends with a blood-curdling scream over a desert landscape.

The above scene is the best way I can describe the experience of last night’s WHITEHOUSE show at DC9. Openers Wolf Eyes and Pig Destroyer, while full-force noise reckoners in their own right, sounded like the Spice Girls when compared to the noise wrought by the two-man WHITEHOUSE crew. Their set was fantastic and everything I had hoped for.

Comparing WHITEHOUSE’s noise assault to that horrific Speke scene captures the demolishing power of their ultra-heavy beats and spiteful Dalek-voiced ranting – but it also works in that it draws a connection between Speke, the Nile-source explorer, and what I find most interesting about noise music, the exploration of sound. Watching a truly great noise act explore the full potential of sound within a given venue is miraculous. Like Speke and his partner Burton, WHITEHOUSE are a pair of explorers, only their territory is that mysterious sonic continent that audiences rarely get to visit. And for one night, last night, we all got the chance to fight, love, and die knee-deep in the sand of that far away of shore.

Originally published on March 3, 2006.

I always liked this write-up.

It’s WHITEHOUSE not Lifehouse

If you like your music brutal, extreme, and challenging then Thursday night’s show at DC9 is the line-up for you. If you like life-affirming, late-90’s, “alternative” soul rock then it most certainly isn’t.

Legendary UK masters of noise (both digital and analogue) WHITEHOUSE are making a DC stop on their new North American tour to spread their unique brand of family values inspired hate sound. Self-described as producing “exquisite and extraordinary works of music and art whose comprehension will violently challenge to the fragile core of a naked soul”, for over 20 years WHITEHOUSE have been known for pushing the envelope in noise music and lyrical content. Having WHITEHOUSE come through DC is like having Throbbing Gristle come through DC. It is a rare treat that no fan of noise music should miss.

Playing along with WHITEHOUSE are one of America’s best home-grown noise acts Michigan’s own Wolf Eyes. I doubt there will be any offensive lyrics accompanying their noise set aside from the occasional ear-splitting mock death-cry. I caught an unforgettable set of Wolf Eyes accompanied with revered Jazz Saxophonist Anthony Braxton in Canada last Spring whilst on my Honeymoon which made for one of those nice, romantic, evenings of chaotic sound.

Finally rounding out the bill are self-professed “pornographers of sound” Pig Destroyer, an up-n-coming Virginia grind-core outfit who I have been dying to check out live for some time now.

You get all of this envelope-pushing, extreme music for a mere $15 at DC9 – what more could an area noise fan want?

(PS – I’m not even going to mention Steve Albini in this – oh wait – damn it!)

Originally published on March 2, 2006.


Number one thing you do not want to to overhear the donut delivery woman telling the manager of your 7-11 in the middle of the night while you are buying Cheese Curls and Milk:

Donut Gal – “Cause you know, it’s illegal to put urine in the back of that truck.”


Originally published on February 23, 2006.

Awww Yeah!

They are definitely introducing the black symbiote costume in Spiderman 3! Check out this poster!

Originally posted on February 23, 2006 on Myspace.

While I liked Spidey 3, I do think it was the weakest of the thee films, mainly because of how they botched up Venom and the black suit. Back in 2006, oh to be that innocent again.

Devil Bunnies

Just a reminder to anyone out there who still gives a hoot, aged industrial-sleaze rockers My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult will be spreading their unique brand of feather-boa, leathered up, Sex on Wheels tonight at the Black Cat for $20.

I was considering going to this show, but then remembered that the last time I saw these guys and gals shaking it on stage they were shadows of their former selves focused way more on image than on music. Which is a damn shame because back in the day TKK put out some of the best.

That said, if anyone who reads Metroblogging goes to this show tonight, please post a brief review in our comments section, I’d be curious to hear how it went.

Originally published on February 23, 2006.

before there was Borf there was…

To continue the unofficial theme of Graffiti day here at Metroblogs DC – how many people remember Cool Disco Dan and his reign of paint-can terror over the DC area through the 80’s & 90’s? While my previous post may make me sound like a jack-boot graffiti fascist, I actually like most real graffiti (as long as it stays off residencies) – it’s just the magic marker taggers that I hate.

While Cool Disco Dan’s graffiti wasn’t the most artful, it was funny to see how prolific he was and to watch his signature spray spread onto the darnedest places around DC, MD, and NOVA. Here is a nice bio of this DC original who kicks the crap out of Borf any day of the week. Mainly because Borf is a spoiled brat while Cool Disco Dan is a genuine product of the city-streets who risked it all to express himself.

Originally published on February 23, 2006.

Borf was this lame, stencil-graffiti, rich-kid in DC in the mid-00's trying to make a name for himself.

Tag, You’re It!

This is one of the more absurd things that I have ever taken part in, but the Borf story reminded me of it so I thought I’d share. I used to hate those permanent marker taggers with a passion but I never went the Trevor Goodchild route instead I did something…else.

Back in ‘95 I was working at the now defunct Key Theater in Georgetown. Just about everyday I used to walk from my place in Foggy Bottom over the M st. bridge to Wisconsin avenue in my theater uniform (black pants, white dress shirt, bow-tie), a trench-coat, and sunglasses. One sunny afternoon whilst walking across M st. bridge I notice a guy ahead of me tagging a metal Pepco box.

I walk up a few feet behind the guy and stop. My shadow looming over the tagger, a guy about my size and my age (then 20). The tagger stops mid-tag, turns, and shoots me a puzzled look. But I don’t say anything. I just stand there staring at him. At which point he loses his nerve and starts up the street leaving his tag incomplete.

About a block up M st. amidst the crowds, I spot him tagging a lamp-post. So I repeat my bridge routine. And he again loses his nerve and leaves mid-tag. Then I stop to browse through some books at the store next to Four Seasons (part of my routine). Ten minutes later about a block up from the bookstore I see the tagger again! Marking up something or other I can’t recall what, but he’s doing it thinking I’m long gone. Wrong! I start to walk up to him when he spots me. Then he freaks out and takes off running up the street and for some reason I chase him!

I don’t really know what he was thinking or what I was thinking for that matter. But we proceeded to have an action movie style foot chase through Georgetown, jumping over and around the bustling crowds, in and out of stores, alleyways, and that one hotel with the seafood joint in it. We must have made quite a sight tearing ass at full tilt down Wisconsin and related side-streets – me in my bow-tie and trench-coat, he in his hoody and piercings. At one point he doubled back and got behind me until I lost him near Blues Alley. Then once again the hunter, I chased him all the way up to Francis Scott Key park where I gave up the chase and doubled back to the Key for my shift.

I don’t really know what would have happened had one of us caught the other. Would we have come to blows? Or would we have laughed our asses off? Later that night, during my shift at the Key, the tagger showed up and I overheard him relating the story to our punk rock projectionist about how some crazy dude in a bow-tie scared the shit out of him and chased him around town. After the tagger left, I told the projectionist that I was that crazy dude. The projectionist got a big laugh out of it all and informed me that this was the tagger guy’s first time trying to tag ever and that he was pretty sure I had scared the guy straight.

Originally published on February 23, 2006.

It's all true, so don't ask.

High Pitched Demon Squeal

Deicide kick ass totally. You mortals do not stand a chance! Guard your souls close as I stalk through your dreams nightly. I stand on a stack of burning bibles yelling "Evil!" with much enthusiasm.

Originally posted on February 23, 2006 on Myspace.


Scrambled Brains

A fishtank exploded all over Eisenhower. Mr. Kotter smacked Phenomenon with a ruler while the Penguin smoked a blunt with Elwood Blues.

And a partridge in a pear tree got sucked into the jet fan of a U2 which went down over Moscow on the Hudson. Robin Williams sucks Mr. Ed's carrot while Lassiter slides down a power line in a race with Tango and Cash.

Cash and Tango dance the Lambada with Crockett and Tubbs while Murtaugh and Riggs battle Busey in a rain of fire hydrant gone sprinkler. Sue Sue Psudeo lives in the Land of Confusion that got a pie in the eye like that black and white Love and Rockets' tune cranking out James Earl Jones' ghetto blaster giving Eddie Olmos an apple with a bomb in it.

Johnny Handsome took the High Road to China Beach boys wish they all could be California Girls gone wild kingdom of heaven can wait, waiter there's a fly in my Talk Soup kitchen confidential informant for Miami Blues fake cop Alec fucking Baldwin say it with me "What one man can do..." another can do attitude is what this outfit has, absolutely fucking A can do yes sir we'll get the job John Donne "No man is an island" full of Fleas which he equates to god and sex and intimacy -damn literative bastard child of the Enlightenment and the Reformation - like the liquid Terminator after getting blown up by a rocket launcher full of bibles and stroke magazines exploding on a Destroyer after a lovers' spat in the Navy in the late 80's while gunboats ran rampant in the Persian Gulf and Time Magazine said Bush Senior would fix all those I ran for office on a platform of pig kissing and didn't finish the job in Iraq in the news everyday hero is the human interest story after saving a cat from a well or learning to read again after carbon monoxide brain damage from a mine collapse of the Soviet Union Pacific Railroaded right out of a job.

Fuck the bozos - Fuck the bozos? - Fuck the bozos right in the ear of corn in my shit faced his firing squad and took it like a mandrake sprouts under Hang 'Em High was a damn fine movie.

Originally posted on February 23, 2006 on Myspace.

More of my prose/poetry.

Feel It Now

Monday night’s Black Rebel Motorcycle Club show was a 2 hour set of their multi-genred rock perfection. Blues, gospel, power chords, and fuzz guitar blended from song to song on the 930 Club’s awe-inspiring sound system to an eventually sold-out capacity audience.

This BRMC show sounded aboslutely forensic. You could hear ever nuance of the instrumentation perfectly. From the bass drum kicking so forcefully it made your chest cavity thump to the pick fret-work of the guitars to the harmonica wheezing it all sounded like you were in the recording studio with all the dials cranked to 10.

This set rocked a lot harder than the September show but still fell a little shy of their 2004 performance at Recher’s. Mainly because since they debuted them six months ago the charm has worn off a bit on two or three songs off of BRMC’s latest album Howl. Not that those tracks were bad, but there were moments when they felt like acoustic holding patterns that were delaying the more rocking numbers. That’s not to say all the acoustic work was bad – not by a long shot. When the entire band were working a Howl song over it was damn near magical.

But the highlight of this show was definitely the electric fireworks. The second to last song “Heart & Soul” was simply mind-blowing. As you can find out for yourself by listening to this NPR recording of the entire BRMC show (Thanks to Medusa for finding the link).

After the show we went to DC9 for a few beers only to discover that one of the BRMC guys was cooling off there as well (Or as my friend put it “Your prediction came true Nostradamus”).

Originally published on February 22, 2006.


The story I posted last Thursday about the digital projectors heist at GMU has finally been reported by area news stations. Showing surveillance video of the week old robbery (that netted thieves a cool $88 grand in equipment) was the lead off story on Channel 9 news tonight at 11 o’clock and was also covered by our other area news broadcasts.

Again if anyone has any information about the stolen equipment please call the Fairfax Police at 1-800-673-2777.

Originally published on February 21, 2006.

A Brief History of WAMO

I worked at the top of the Washington Monument for 5 years with a company called the Parks & History Association. After working there for so long, I gained an intimate knowledge of the place, its history and its lore.

The idea for a tribute to our first president was conceived while he was still alive. Congress wanted to build something to honor Washington’s unparalleled contribution to our young nation. Washington himself however was reluctant to the idea. So a compromise was made in the idea of building a small statue of Washington riding a horse.

Unfortunately before the statue was erected Washington died. Congress quickly diverted the statue funds to building a tomb for Washington inside the US Capitol. And in fact they did build a tomb for him there, but Washington’s family refused to move his body from their cemetery at Mt. Vernon. You can still see Washington’s empty tomb today if you take an extended tour of the Capitol. Or you may have seen it if you watched any of the footage of Ronald Reagan’s funeral, which was held in the Washington crypt.

So now that Washington was dead and there was no public Monument yet constructed, the modest idea to honor him grew to epic proportions. A design competition was held by Congress to determine what the Washington Monument would look like. Every significant group or faction in America was represented in the competition and each design became more and more grand. Ultimately after a 64-year long debate a plan by Robert Mills was accepted as the winner. His design featured an Egyptian Obelisk. While many today consider the Monument’s shape to be a phallic symbol in fact the obelisk represents the geometric extrapolations of a beam of sunlight, originating in the Sun’s core and widening as it comes down to Earth. The idea being that Washington’s leadership was the light that guided the nation through the Revolution.

Construction of the Washington Monument began on July 4, 1848 under the supervision of the Washington National Monument Committee. A private group in charge of the Washington Monument Fund. Mismanagement of the construction fund, in fighting among committee members and rising Civil War tensions put a halt to construction in 1856. (More after the pic)

(Image courtesy of NPS)

The Washington Monument stood 1/3 of the way complete for several years, while the nation fought the Civil War. The incomplete Monument in the words of Mark Twain “looked like a hollow, over-sized chimney.” and the fields around it were used to graze cattle. In fact the actual unfinished Monument was used as a slaughterhouse at this time. When it wasn’t being used to store meat, the public was allowed to go to the top of the unfinished structure. Even at 1/3 its height the Monument was the tallest building in America and a tourist attraction because of it.

There is a legend about a woman from the mid-west who brought her cat along with her while visiting the Monument. Once at the top, the cat escaped from the woman and jumped off the edge, falling several stories to the ground and surviving! Rumor has it the cat lived several more years before dying. When it did die, it is said that the woman sent the cat to the Smithsonian Institute and somewhere in their collection its body remains today.

Construction of the Monument resumed 20 years later in 1876 under Government financial control and the supervision of the Army Corp of Engineers. The Army completed the project without incident in 1885.

After this long construction process, in 1888 the Monument was opened to the public and 107 years later, I went to work there. While I worked at the Washington monument I learned hundreds of interesting things about it.

The most impressive is that the Washington Monument is the tallest free standing stone structure in the world. This means that there is nothing holding the Monument together except gravity. There is no mortar or cement, just block stacked upon block held together by its own weight. This obelisk was built in the traditional ancient Egyptian way on a scale never before attempted or matched.

Another interesting fact is that the tip of the Monument, or the capstone of the pyramid is constructed out of solid aluminum, which in the 1800’s was the most valuable metal on Earth. Aluminum was so valuable back then because it required electricity to forge it. When the capstone was forged in the 1880’s it was the largest aluminum piece ever designed. It was displayed on the floor of Tiffany’s Jewelers in New York where anyone who wished could “jump over the Washington Monument” until it was installed in 1884. As if that wasn’t obscure enough there is another little known fact about the Monument capstone. It is inscribed with the words “Laus Deo” which means “Praise be to God”.

Finally, back in the DC baseball days of yore, the Washington Senators outfielders held a contest every year at the Monument where they would see who could catch the most baseballs dropped from the Monument’s top. Maybe this is something the Nationals could bring back after they finally get a stadium.

Originally published on February 21, 2006.

One of my all time favorite articles.

Red Eyes and Tears

Tonight for the second time in six months Black Rebel Motorcycle Club will be appearing at the 930 Club. Now I couldn’t tell you why BRMC have two stops in DC on their current tour but I sure ain’t complainin’!

Their performance at Recher’s in 2004 was one of the best shoegazer shows I’ve ever seen. When BRMC played the 930 Club back in September they were reinvented with a down-home rock-n-roll sound that kept us all toe-tapping for the rest of that week. I can only assume tonight’s show is going to round out what was left off the set-list from last time BRMC were here. But even if it doesn’t a second helping of September’s rock bliss will be just fine.

And for those fanatical fans out there – last show BRMC went to DC9 to hang out after they played. You might want to be on the lookout for a repeat of that appearance too.

Originally published on February 20, 2006.

That's nice

Woo-hoo! I got invited to join the National Honors Society for the study of History!

I may not be able to speak Spanish, but I sure know my history.

Originally posted February 20, 2006 on Myspace.