Friday, July 30, 2010

Soft Mall.

finally checked something off the old informal, non-written, but still kinda-there Bucket List - play softball on the Mall.

When I was a little kid, my aunt worked at Treasury, and she'd sometimes take me into work with her. "Take Your Kid to Work" days were tough on her because she couldn't have kids, and by having me around, I was her child-by-proxy. We usually took the underground tunnels over to visit Uncle Paul for lunch, and to head over to the Metro, but one late-summer day, we walked along the Mall. The sun was just ever-so-slightly beginning to head towards sunset, and I watched these folks play softball with the backdrop of the Monument behind them. It seemed so damned idyllic, and so utterly amazing to see how such a space could be used - the very same stretch of land that I saw the 1976 Bicentennial Fireworks from, the kite festivals, the lingering protests from the MIA/POW crowd, the historical pictures of the Hoovervilles and the Freedom March...and here were these folks playing softball, laughing, smiling, competing. I guess it was about 1984, where any normal 11 year old Baltimore fan like myself simply assumed that a career of baseball greatness awaited me at Memorial Stadium, and I snickered at these Government workers, lawyers and Hill staffers trying to play a clearly-substandard game. So while I thought *I* would never play such a gastly sport like softball - real men play baseball, damn it - I had to admit, they looked like they were having the time of their lives.

So, I thought "once my obvious Hall of Fame career as a Baltimore Oriole is over, I will play softball on the Mall and show these punks how it is DONE."

Check and mate, Life, Irony and Fate. Check and mate.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

my latest DCFUD rant.

From :

Food writer Jacquelynn D. Powers recently listed 6 food trends she wants to see disappear in an article for The Daily Beast. For the most part, she’s pretty spot-on on identifying the most notorious offenders - bacon overload is indeed a slippery slope, folks - and sliders are appearing on more menus than buffalo wings in the `90s.

But when she declares ”Food Trucks Drive Me Crazy” because they’re expanding in hip, dynamic cities, and possibly gumming up New York City’s already gummed-up traffic, I have to wonder if she has ever stepped her foodie foot in the shoes of the average D.C. office drone, like, frankly, me. Walk a mile in my shoes, Powers, and see if you aren’t BEGGING for a food truck by the 1000ft marker.

Had I paid a bit more attention to societal trends in my youth, I doubt that I would have majored in Mass Communications with the intent of working in radio and television. Had I realized how much it would suck moving town-to-town, up-and-down the dial WKRP-style, I would have followed my aunt’s wishes and gone to business school. Had I overruled my city-fearing mom, I’d have used my savings from my childhood weekly allowance to buy dozens of the Dollar Houses that I *KNEW* would be worth millions one day, making me Baltimore’s youngest, most adorable slumlord. Had I realized how much I’d like helping a future girlfriend study for medical school, I would have followed my grandmother’s wishes and been a doctor. Had I realized how ridiculously well-connected my uncle was on the Hill, I’d have become yet-another DC policy lawyer with a blog, a BMW, an expense account and at least one hot Russian spy mistress. However, I didn’t realize a damned thing other than Mass Communications is the easiest major you can possibly have short of Mime for the Vision Impaired and still get a Bachelor of Science degree from an accredited university. It gave me the job skills to be one hell of a morning show deejay – if people still listened to the radio – and how to wear a suit while on-camera so that it doesn’t bunch up around the shoulders. Sadly, that’s a lesson I could have learned by simply renting Broadcast News and saving $10,000 in student loans.

My point? I am not a high-falutin’ big shot lawyer, doctor, real estate developer or business expert that can afford to dine in the District’s many high-end lunch establishments on the client’s dime. Chances are, you aren’t, either. I’m a standard Government drone - a cog in the not-terribly-well-oiled machine that runs D.C. - and I do have neither the money nor the three hours to kill to eat at places I can’t pronounce. I get about 30 minutes to either stand in line at a McDonald’s, a Potbelly, or a Weigh-and-Pay; drown my over-developed taste buds with over-salted salad dressing on an under-flavored salad; and then scurry back to the office before my over-paid, under-qualified bosses yell at my near-tardiness. So excuse the hell outta me if I want a little variety in my life, and the easiest way I can achieve a temporary sense of dining Nirvana is to eat a Cuban sandwich perfectly prepared in the back of a big white truck that could have been hauling plumbing supplies a couple of years earlier for all I know.

The District has been a little slow to hop on the big city food truck ride, but now that we’re on it, why stop? A quick look at the Washington Post’s new food truck’s Twitter aggregator shows a pretty decent sampling of wheel-based dining options. Tacos. Pizza. Subs. Indian food with a kickin’ soundtrack. Cupcakes. Cupcakes. OK, maybe Powers has a point about the overpopulation of cupcake outlets, but at least these are GOOD cupcakes. But the main issue is this: for those of us unwashed masses who yearn to eat free, getting ethnic foods and sweet treats from the backs of trucks serve as welcome respite to the otherwise mind-numbing lack of variety and flavor we’d otherwise endure. Not to get too NRA on ya, but they’ll get my food trucks when they pry my cold dead fingers from their bumpers.


Since this is more of a rant than an actual review, I’ll simply say that the Cubans from El Floridano; Curbside’s Cookies and Cream, Orange Dreamsicle and Sweetbites’s Pina Colada cupcakes; DCSlice’s pies and Fojol’s whimsical sense with buttered chicken and basmati rice are all pretty WHAMMY!-worthy. Mad I missed your favorite truck? Tell them to drive to L’Enfant Plaza and ask for good ole’ Five. Interested in a new dining truck idea? Drop me a line. I have thoughts.