I’ve seen parts of the film before it had the professional narration, and even though I am more interested in baseball stadiums than baseball games, the very old story of dreams and exploitation was still fresh.
Oddisee has been a bit of a thing in DC since he showed up a couple of years ago, but since summer’s coming around, I’d like to bring up his mixtape from last year, Rock Creek Park. When I graduated from high school, I don’t think that I could have imagined a hip-hop album about anything within a half-mile of my parents house that wasn’t a tryin’ it homage to Maret’s lunch menu, but hey, things change. And it’s really great, as both music and also for what it represents.
The instrumental album, I suppose, feels like the park. At the least, it feels like a great soundtrack to rolling around the park when your mind’s at ease. The opener, “Still Doin’ It,” establishes the theme with collaborator y.U.’s lyrics about biking and driving around DC. That kind of multimodal use of the city warms the cockles of this urbanist’s heart. The symphonic “Carter Barron” plays off the go-go rhythms of “Clara Barton.” Oddisee throws pretty much any sound you can find in DC together and makes it work. And doesn’t “Closed After Dark“ let you know that the Blackbyrds still know what goes on there?
Anyhow, check it out. It’s local. And still fresh.
1: The first two Fort Reno concerts were a smashing success, with at least 300 people showing up to listen, eat, and frolic on the grass around the stage. Monday night’s show was a fun mix of different styles. The Sweater Set delivered on their ultra-indie promise to give a twee multi-instrument set. Funk Ark played some solid 70s funk that made the sudden arrival of a Park Police car seem a little too like a cop movie, especially when teens started fleeing the concert with black plastic bags. Lastly Pash led the night out with a harder energy, although the lead singer’s vocals were drowned out in the mix, which took away a lot of the melody.
The second night began with noon:30, who added some soul-like vocals to cool and muddy indie rock. They’re having an EP release party on July 4th. Meow vs. Meow followed up with a harder sound with a lot of strong rhythm. Lastly, the Electricutions played the crowd out, just after the sun had totally left the horizon. There’s another show this Monday and another on Thursday, but more on that later.
2: National Realty & Development, the owners of Lord and Taylor’s, have announced plans and received approval to build a one-story commercial building on the “home plate” parking lot behind Mazza Gallerie. The Northwest Current’s reporting mentions that the original lease between L&T’s and Mazza called for the parking lot to be used as a car park in perpetuity. Now, the unanimous and quick vote of the council is to turn it into a walkable shopping district, competing with the deluxe stores along Wisconsin Avenue. Could still have some height on top of that, but apparently the 50-year lease ends in 15 years, so development won’t have enough of a payoff for them. Completion of the five stores is expected for early 2011.
3: Politics and Prose, the cultural institution at the border of Tobago and Chevy Chase, announced its schedule for July/August. You can look at the schedule, but here are the authors presenting books on urban issues:
- Wednesday, July 8th, 7PM: Alyssa Katz will discuss her book on the foreclosure and mortgage crisis, Our Lot.
- Friday July 10th, 7PM: Reloville, by Peter Kilborn, examines large subsets of suburban residents whose livelihoods depend on not forming close ties to the local community and frequently moving on to a new job.
- August 11th, 7PM: Jane Jacob’s struggle with Robert Moses, and the issues it was born of, are retold in Anthony Flint’s Wrestling with Moses.
Maybe I’ll see you there. It’s not too accessible, but you can take the L1,2,4 or the M4 from Van Ness and Tenleytown Metro stations, respectively.
The entity that organizes the annual Fort Reno Concert series has finally gone online, and not a moment too soon. The first show is next week, on Monday, June 22nd, showcasing some strong talent from the DC area. First up is Pash, an indie rock band that sounds superficially like Metric, having a good band and a great female vocalist. Second is Funk Ark, a funk group that seems to mass-customize grooves for a post-partisan era. Lastly, but not leastly, the Sweater Set, about whom the only thing to say is: kazoo harmony.
The concerts are an annual event going back at least until the 1950s that let some up-and-coming local bands get some wide exposure. I’ve talked to some old timers who remember sitting out on the grass and listening to blues and folk music after ending their days at Deal and Wilson. It was a good time then, and it’s still a good time. Check it out.
The show starts at 7:15.
The Fojol Brothers of Merlindia, a quartet of locally grown twentysomethings with a secret indian chef, are out to revolutionize the street food scene in DC. Along with Ali Baba’s, and the upcoming Sweetflow truck, they’re up against DC’s longstanding tradition of awful, awful street vendors. As one (I think it was Ababa-Du) told me, “All you get in DC is hot dogs and soda … yeah and awful pretzels.” Awful pretzels indeed, and without dijon. Running only on Fridays and Saturdays, all of the members do this in addition to regular jobs and apparently are willing to sacrifice their weekends to bring their traveling culinary carnival to DC.
Their total aesthetic is a retro fusion of Indian with hip green techno, employing fake mustaches and turbans while they cruise around in a 1960s bread truck. Their trays are made out of sugar cane fibers, their sporks from corn resin, and they compost just about everything else. All of this half-ironic campiness and doo-goodery could be a pretty lame excuse for attention, were it not executed with such batty genius – and more importantly, if their food wasn’t so good.
It can’t be stressed enough that the food is delicious, basic Indian food. Fretting about authenticity of cuisine is always a bit misplaced, but with complex food from a made-up place, you should just shut up and eat. I had the chicken masala, a pumpkin side, and some sweet sticks. The chicken was a moderately spicy dish that satisfies like any indian food with sauce, while the pumpkin was soft and delicious, with a heavy dose of cardamom that balanced the sweetness of the fruit itself. The sweet sticks were not so much sweet as they were flavored with cumin and maybe allspice, which made them pretty good for cleaning out the lingering masala spices.
As I sat there eating, I watched the stream of buttoned-down passers-by giving long, curious looks and other people lingering and plenty eating. It’s never going to be like New York, with its hour-long waits at 53rd & 6th chicken and rice, the ultimate drunk food that is Roti Roll, or the Vendy awards, but this little performance-food experiment is definitely a good thing, and hopefully a sign of things to come.
Follow them on twitter and get to eating.
You might also want to check out his film productions at Cocaine in Motion, particularly their Sand Moon movie (not really funny). They also have some amazing parables on Youtube. They feature the Methodist Cemetery and Fort Reno in a number of flicks.