Saturday, August 30, 2008

City Snapshot: The National Gallery of Art

One of my favorite museums in Washington is the National Gallery of Art. I spent the morning there taking advantage of one of my last days of freedom before school starts on Tuesday and my life is taken over by my rigorous class schedule. I even took a tour, a kind of introduction to the Gallery examining the trends in Western Art from medieval religious art to the 19th Century. Mostly stuff I already knew, but it's always fun to hear what the guides have to say. I treated myself to a hot dog and a mocha frappucino on the mall before heading home all the while wishing Scott were here to share the day. I miss him.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sufferin' Til Suffrage

Much was made of Hillary Clinton's speech last night at the Democratic National Convention: "Will she be sincere? Will she fully support Obama? Can she motivate her supporters to get behind Barack?" All day long ad nauseum that's all you heard from any of the media outlets. Well, good ol' Hillary hit it out of the ballpark with her speech last night. As you know, I've been an Obama supporter for a long time now, but I have to say I don't think I've ever been more proud of my Senator from New York than last night. And as for any Hillary supporter thinking of voting for McCain over Obama, could she have put it more plainly than "No way, no how, NO McCAIN!" Amen sister.

Also, it was no accident that Hillary's speech coincided with the 88th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote. I couldn't help but sing this song all day yesterday as well. I credit School House Rock for teaching me and a generation of kids in the '70s about the plight of Women's Suffrage. Watch it again and really listen to the lyrics. As an adult I'm struck once again by how clever they are. Enjoy.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

City Snapshot: No Pissing!

Always considerate, Scott sent me this photo in case I was homesick for New York. He has the distinct pleasure of walking past this "No pissing or Sh*tting--People Live Here!" sign (complete with graphic for the illiterate and non-English speaking) in the little alley known as Jersey Street between Crosby and LaFayette Streets on his way to work in "trendy" Tribeca--or is it the Lower East Side? I try not to go down there.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Hey, Old Friend

This weekend in Washington was the Gay and Lesbian Journalist Convention. It just so happens I had two old friends attending, Joe, of Joe.My.God fame and Dave, author and cartoonist of A Couple of Guys. I've known both of them for years. Dave I met by chance on tour almost 10 years ago and it was just one of those friendships that has lasted and lasted. He's one of those rare friends you might not talk to for months but whenever you do you pick up right where you left off. And I've not talked about it much here, but ol' Joe.My.God and I go way back as well. I have the distinct pleasure of being one of the first friends he met in New York after his move from San Francisco. We had chatted online before but never met. My boyfriend at the time, Jimmy, and I planned to meet Joe at the Dugout on a Sunday night for beer blast one night back in 2000. Joe was sitting quietly off in a corner nervously scanning the room for us. He seemed shy first, but it wasn't long before the ice was broken and a long friendship has endured. Knowing him now of course it seems hard to believe that he was ever shy before.

It had been a while since I'd seen Joe or Dave. At least with Dave we have the excuse of living in different cities. I have no excuse for not seeing Joe though except that New York can be such a complicated place to stay in touch with people. Everyone's always so busy (and then Joe had to go and move to the Upper East Side!) Ironic that we both happened to be in Washington to catch up with each other. The thing with both of these guys is that whenever I see either of them we just laugh and laugh! After a week in a new city, as much as I love it here so far, it felt great to see some familiar faces, have some fun and a few laughs.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Victor Hugo Cut My Hair

Longtime readers know of my affinity for barber shops. With all the preparation for my move I scarcely had time for a haircut before I left New York, so I found myself in need of a barber here in DC. I did a google search which yielded some results in the North West district. One was on my way down to the post office which I also had to visit, so I decided to check it out. It was in the downtown area and clearly the kind of shop frequented by white collar office workers on their lunch hours, with a large photo of January 20, 1989 on the wall commemorating the inauguration day of George I along side a magazine stand stocked with Car & Driver, Playboy and Hustler.

All three barbers were over 50, two were white and one was Latino. One white guy I never heard speak, but the other had what sounded like an Eastern European accent. The barber who worked on me was the Latino sporting a thick black pompadour, a Tony Orlando mustache and had the unlikely name of Victor Hugo. I noticed this from the stack of business cards he kept on his counter. Old Victor did a nice job including a shave with hot foam and a straight razor on my neck. When it was over I picked his business card and asked "Is this you? Victor Hugo?" He said yes to which I could not resist adding "I'm a big fan of your writing." He smiled a painful smile, nodded his head and rolled his eyes a bit and simply said "Thank you, sir." I immediately regretted my unoriginal quip adding "I'm sure you hear that all the time."

Anyway, I don't think I'll be back to that particular shop--the cut cost me $27! In New York I only pay $15. For $30 I can go to one of the salons off Dupont Circle and at least be with "my peeps" as they say. I guess I have some time to figure it out.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I See (Important) Dead People

Well, it's day two in Washington for me. My first day on my own (Scott left yesterday to go back to New York). My new apartment gets bathed in the morning light as it faces east. I was up 7:30 to finish unpacking and to discover more of the Logan/Dupont Circle neighborhood that I am lucky enough to call home for the next year. On my way out the door this morning I experienced Washington DC high security first hand. I was stopped by a motorcade of dozens of policemen and a fleet of limousines, bringing traffic to a standstill in all directions and causing detours. I wondered what all the fuss was about. I noticed a limo with those little flags on either side of the hood coming down the street. I remember President Ford used to ride in one of those--does the president still use that kind of limo? More likely a gas-guzzling SUV with this president. But just in case it was the president I thought about nonchalantly scratching my nose with my middle finger as it passed then thought better of it--what with all the police about. I was afraid the title of my next post would read: Manhattan Chowder Arrested for Rude Gesture.

But wasn't the president at all. Following the long line of limos was a hurse. All this for a dead person. I couldn't remember hearing of anyone in the news dying important enough to warrant all this. So, I did a google search and the best I could come up with was this: Funeral held for Bud Doggett, influential business leader. Influential indeed. But I never heard of him. Exactly two hours later I watched from my window the same motorcade traveling in the opposite direction. By time I started counting there were 50 motorcycle police. FIFTY. Sheesh. It made me wonder who was minding the city. Talk about the perfect time to rob a bank.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Leopard Chair

Last night I signed a lease to turn over my apartment, the home I own, lovingly decorated and agonized over, the subject of endless furniture placement floorplans and sketch renderings of a mythical walk in closet I swear I'm going to build someday, to a complete stranger. Now, it's been many years since I've been in the rental market in New York, but back in the day it was notoriously cut-throat. I remember waiting at a newstand in the wee hours of a Wednesday morning to get the latest edition of the Village Voice and a jump on that week's rental listings. Then one had to pay finders fees and deal with bloodthirsty brokers who charged fees to the tune of 20% of the first year's rent that the renter, not the landlord, pays. I vowed back then if I was ever a landlord I would not support the racket that is the New York rental market.

The Internet and more and more buildings being converted to co-ops or condos thereby creating more individual owners, not to mention the building boom of the last decade that seems to produce sky-scrapers full of luxury rentals on a weekly basis along the west side, has eased the market a bit. Those no-fee apartments once almost unheard of have given way to new buildings with the phone number of their rental office posted outside on a 4 story banner. Craigslist has replaced the Village Voice for the best apartment deals in the city. It's free for no-fee apartments and apartment rentals by owner to post an ad. So, that's what I planned to do: post an ad on Craigslist. Easy, right? I'll have an open house and have this place rented in an 2 hours, maybe three

I made some calls to my building manager who instructed me to get x, y, and z financial and legal information from an potential tenant and of course a credit check should be done. I spoke to my boss, a smart, well-to-do, old-time New York "dame" who has been the owner of a couple of rental apartments over the years. I told her my plan to use Craigslist. "Are you crazy? Do you want every lunatic in New York parading through your apartment? Turn it over to a broker--it's what they do. You tell them exactly who you want in there and they'll find them. And it's free for you! You have enough to do before you go away." She had a point.

So, I gave in. I broke the promise I made to that idealistic out-of-work 23-year old actor so many years ago and called a broker. Thank god I called the broker I did though, because I was immediately reminded of why I never wanted to use them in first place. The aggressive tactics and fast talking. It was as if I could feel a claw like hand reaching through the phone ready to snatch up my listing. Before I even had a chance to ask anything, she knew the address and all my contact information. Finally I took control of the conversation saying I wasn't sure when the apartment would be ready to show, but I would let her know. I hung up and immediately started writing my Craigslist ad.

The ad produced a couple dozen email responses all expressing interest in the open house. I spruced the place up getting it ready and I must say, it looked fabulous. But in the end, only a handful of people showed up, including the perfect candidate. He gave me a scare over the weekend, almost backing out of the deal, but finally showed up to see the place one last time, checks in hand, ready to sign the lease. While he did one final walk through, I gave him ideas on how to increase storage space and we discussed furniture placement. But when he agonized over just where to place his leopard chair, I knew the place would be well taken care of and in good hands. I will be able to rest easy in Washington.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Happy Birthday, Julia!

Indulge a doting uncle as he wishes his goddaughter Happy Birthday.  Has a year past already since this beauty came into the world?  Hard to believe.   


Shakespeare on a Train

Long time readers know all about my quest for graduate school and my MFA in acting. Earlier this year I decided to attend a program in Washington, DC which focuses on classical acting in particular. Last month I went down to DC once again, this time to see the student productions and to find an apartment.

One of the shows the students were doing was Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. It's one of the canon that I was not that familiar with so I decided to pick up a paperback version for $5.50 to read on the train on the way down. Even though it's considered one of the comedies, there are some very moving scenes in the play. As I came to one of those sections I was moved to tears. I actually cried. Real tears. Reading Shakespeare. On the train.

I stopped reading for a moment and that's when my tears turned into those of joy with the realization that yes, indeed, I've made the right decision. If I can be moved to tears reading Shakespeare on a train, then I must be headed in the right direction. This must be my passion.

The productions were beautifully acted and I look forward learning what those students have learned. And I found an apartment--what will be my new home for the next year. My last day of work was August 1, and since then I have been busy packing up my life and my apartment here in New York in preparation for this new adventure. I move to DC on August 17, so until then the posts will be light as they have been all Summer. Be patient. And thanks for reading.

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