Cafe 227

Monday, July 31, 2006

The Annual Metamorphosis of Cafe 227

Those of you who either (1) know me personally or (2) have read my Friendster/MySpace profile know the following: I have an irrational obsession with the Steelers. Indeed, my disposition is positively correlated with the Steelers' success. Perhaps I view the Steelers as an escape or, more aptly, a distraction from the banalities of staring at Excel spreadsheets all day. In the off-season, I lead quite a productive life - I read works of great literature, watch foreign art-house films of import (without subtitles, mind you), go white water rafting, write lengthy expository essays on Spinoza's concept of the relationship between substance, attributes, and modes, etc. But come August, I'm all about the Steelers.

So, I was heartened to see the following today when I visited the Post Gazette's web site:

That's right - "Steelers: back to work." And, "Thousands cheer Big Ben's every move." Etc.

Training camp has begun.

You know what this means, don't you? Don't worry, Cafe 227's not necessarily going to become a Steelers blog. Nonetheless, the topic of the Steelers will dominate my ongoing virtual dialogue with you from now until the Steelers repeat as Super Bowl champions in February 2007. I know that you may have no interest in the Steelers, but I'm sorry. This is just how it has to be.

Let's start things off on a humorous note...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Good Times Will be Had by All

Since I'm going to be in client meetings all day tomorrow, might as well get this out of the way now...

If you're in the know, we'll see you at Cafe 227 this weekend. And, to paraphrase the G-Unit, if you don't know, you betta aks somebody...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Axis of Evil Comedy Tour comes to DC - Friday, July 28

This isn't a political blog. I certainly don't want to use this space as a forum to voice my frustrations on the current situation in the Middle East. As a Lebanese-American with two first cousins in the Lebanese army and dozens of other family members at risk, I can't speak about the situation objectively anyway. Besides, there are smarter people than me who do that kind of thing for a living.

That said, I wanted to pass along the following information for an comedy show/fundraiser at Busboys and Poets this Friday, July 28. All proceeds will be donated to relief efforts in Lebanon. And not only is this for a good cause, but these guys are hilarious. I've seen them several times and routinely steal their jokes.

___________________________

Axis of Evil Comedy Tour

The acclaimed Axis of Evil Comedy Show, featuring comedians Ahmed Ahmed, Aron Kader, Maz Jobrani, special guest Palestinian/American comedian Dean Obeidallah (Creator of the New York Arab Comedy Festival and Radio personality from Air America). For additional information please visit http://www.axisofevilcomedy.com/. Minimum donation $10.00 – first come first served – space is limited. All proceeds will go to Lebanon relief efforts (we are currently assessing credible organizations to accept the donations on behalf of the people of Lebanon).

___________________________

(As an aside, if you're at all interested in doing something other than attending a comedy show to support Lebanon relief efforts, you can start by signing one or both of these two petitions, although I doubt it'll make much of a difference. To contribute something more tangible than an electronic signature, you could always make a donation to the Red Cross - they seem to have a knack for reaching the most desperate areas.)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Apocalypse is upon us fools!

Where the hell have I been for the last three weeks??? The world is coming to an end. DC cops on Segways? The freaking Canadian Mounties patrolling upper NW? Harold Reynolds getting fired from ESPN for (allegedly) too much pimping?? Where is the sense of normalcy in this crazy world? Oh wait, DC cops arresting two black guys after they killed someone even though they have enough shit to pick them up? Whewwww, the world is round again.
For those who may care, I am currently in week 10 of training, also known as "Holy fuck, I still have three more goddamn months left before I leave the taint section of the United States". By the way, during a lecture for self-incrimination the legal department discusses "purging the taint" of an arrest. I swear I was back in 7th grade because everyone started laughing. Fellas, make sure you "purge the taint" before proceeding, if you know what I mean.
Anywho, for those who may think it is all fun and games down here, I want you to know we have lost three people from our program. One failed the arrest techniques test 3 times (you get one test and two remediations for non-written tests), one failed to qualify for shooting, and one guy just said, "Fuck it, I'm out!" As you may have noticed, my swearing has improved down here and I apologize for all those who are sensitive. Well, I really don't but it sounds good. I have a question for Johnny Shades: did you go rafting in WV at Aceraft without me? You Vlade Divac looking bama. Give me a shout. To everyone else, stay cool where ever you may be, and remember this quote: "Let terror be the order of the day" - Bertrand Barere

And in This Week's Installment of "What Can't Google Do..."

...it's time to cross "offer live traffic updates on cell phones" off the list.

Other random links that I've amassed recently:

  • Could this article about a Tomahawk missile on a New York highway have a more groan-inducing headline?
  • Courtesy of YouTube, here is Dave Chappelle's controversial "Racial Pixies" skit. Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
  • More from YouTube: Two pieces of videographic evidence that history will likely judge George W. Bush to be a bad president.
  • Still more from YouTube: Yoda breakdancing. (Imagine if the time and brainpower spent putting such things together were instead dedicated to finding a cure for cancer or figuring out why Lauriol Plaza is still popular?)
  • Here's a funny article about the absurdity of the Department of Homeland Security designating 77,000 different sites across the United States as "critical infrastructure." And here's the not-so-funny part: the government probably could have afforded to secure all of them (deserving or not) if it weren't for the war in Iraq.

Where Have You Gone, Harold Reynolds?

Deadspin recently posted that Harold Reynolds has been fired from ESPN. I sincerely hope that there is not some seedy story from Harold's personal life and is just another reason for sports fans to hate ESPN.

Harold offered fun, playful insight into the game in a humble, pro-player way. He is, basically, the anti-Keith Hernandez . Harold also covered the Little League World Series with style and class, something that Chico's Bail Bonds graciously appreciates.

So long, Harold, and thanks for the memories!

All of a sudden, Fox Sports looks palatable.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Follow-up: DC's New Super-Elite Crime Fighting Force

Try and follow along here, mkay?

14th Street : Cop on Horse :: 34th Street:_________

Anyone know what the answer is?

Right.

The answer is 'Cop on Segway'.

Driving up 34th street in Georgetown last week I saw a cop riding a Segway in the middle of the street.

Unsure of what to do, I just tailed him till he turned onto T Street. He was pissed, but what was i gonna do? He was blocking only drivable lane and if I passed him he would have probably given me a ticket.

I get the horse - I mean, what could be more fun than chasing after a perp while riding on a horse and shooting at him....but riding a Segway??


WTF?

Segways top out at about 12.5 mph.

Horses can canter/lope up to 17mph and when galloping, hit 30 mph.


What happens if you need to CATCH someone? Obviously DC cops want to catch their criminals, right?

What happens if the Segway runs out of batteries? God forbid if the perp veers onto non asphalt terrain? Are cops going to go off-roading in their Segways? Probably not.
I'm envisioning Chief Wiggum on a Segway at the edge of some grass watching Snake run off into the sunset. Poor Chief Wiggum.

On the other hand, Segways don't crap all over city streets...so they've got that going for them....which is nice.

Oh.....and if you're looking for a way to pass the time, this will surely do. I think I'm done for the rest of the week.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

DC's New Super-Elite Crime Fighting Force

Just got back from an incredible 3-day white water rafting trip in West Virginia. Being able to escape to the country for a few days and enjoy the beauty of nature was definitely a cathartic experience. But after more than a few near-death experiences on the rapids, I couldn't wait to get back to the city - the buildings, the businesses, the people, the horses...

Could someone please tell me why Mounties are patrolling 14th Street? Is that what happens when they declare a "crime emergency" - they call in the cavalry? Or have the neighborhood police officers been stripped of their vehicles as punishment for blocking in an irate local blogger?

It's great to see an increased police presence in what was heretofore an increasingly dangerous neighborhood. But to force the horse to stand directly in front of Yum's for hours on end is tantamount to animal cruelty. Just look at the horse peering anxiously over his shoulder, hoping he doesn't end up in tonight's basashi special.

(When I took this picture, I was actually on my way to Yum's for dinner, but I ended up going to Ben's instead...)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Crazy Italians in the Bronx

Holy crap, I thought only Steelers fans were this insane. Courtesy of Doza, here's some live footage of Morris Park right after Italy won the World Cup. (For those of you who don't know, Morris Park - birthplace of Emilio's Pizza, Regis Philbin, and Doza - is a neighborhood in the north Bronx heavily populated by people of German and Polish descent. There are absolutely no Italian-Americans there.)

I spent about 20 minutes trying to embed this, but I couldn't figure it out. If someone knows how to embed a Flash object into blogger, drop me a line.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

World Jump Day is Tomorrow, End of World is Nigh

What is this absurdity? Can this be for real?

I've seen some stupid ideas for concocted feast days before (Talk Like a Pirate Day and National Corndog Day come to mind), but never one that so threatened our very existence.

I'm talking about World Jump Day, which is tomorrow.

The general premise is supposedly based on German research, which purports that "planet earth could be driven out of its current orbital rotation by the combined force of human beings jumping." Apparently, this result of this orbital positioning would be an end to global warming, extended daytime hours, and a more homogenous climate.

Dubious. (As well as internally inconsistent - if there are more daytime hours, how will that reduce - let alone end - global warming??)

I'm not a physicist, but I doubt that 600 million people jumping at the same time can alter the orbit of the planet earth. So I assume this web site is a hoax.

I hope this web site is a hoax.

But if it's not, and you want to participate in this global experiment with potentially cataclysmic implications, jump time for the Eastern U.S. time zone is precisely 6:39:13am tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Jesus for Jews

Have you ever thought to yourself, "Hmmm, I wonder if there's a fringe religious group out there kind of like the Jews for Jesus, only the exact opposite?" Well wonder no more, thanks to our friends at NPR (who have proven once again that they do, in fact, consider everything).

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Definition of Irony and the Media's Incompetence

Irony:

1. The use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning.

2. An expression or utterance marked by a deliberate contrast between apparent and intended meaning.

3. A literary style employing such contrasts for humorous or rhetorical effect.

Why am I recounting this here? In case the President of the United States reads this humble blog. See, earlier today President Bush made the following utterance:

"See the irony is what [the United Nations] need[s] to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over."

Of course, the popular media jumped all over this. "OMG, the President cussed!", they exclaimed in unison.

But why is this surprising or even undesirable? I'm sure Winston Churchill cussed; no one crucified him over it. Nay, the real story to me is our President's woefully improper usage of the word "irony." Unless I'm taking his statement out of context (and if I am, someone please correct me), I simply don't see what's ironic about the scenario the President describes. I mean, it's nothing like rain falling on one's wedding day. (Wait a minute, that's not ironic either. Doesn't anyone know how to use this word properly?)

(Actually, the real real story here, as Ezra Klein over at the Prospect points out, is the popular media completely ignoring anything of substance in the exchange - i.e., Bush's belief that it's "within the Syrian government's power to calm the conflict" - and instead exclusively focusing on a four-letter word that, as far as four-letter words go, isn't really all that bad.)

The Fate of Sugar's and Other Fun Tidbits from the Washington Business Journal

I love the Washington Business Journal. I always feel like I'm in the know about restaurants and bars before everyone else in DC, which affords me an air of coolness among my friends that I don't deserve. For instance, today I learned the following:


  • Sugar's crap-tastic deli in Georgetown, which shuttered its doors earlier this year, will be replaced by Saxbys Coffee, a Colorado-based coffee shop chain. I'm usually a vocal opponent of chains such as this being introduced into thriving urban areas (mostly on aesthetic grounds), but they could've opened a Hooters in this space and it would've been an upgrade. Tom Papadopoulos of Popadopoulos Properties brokered the deal - and I only mention that to ask the following question: If your last name is Papadopoulos, are you required to either be (1) a real-estate broker or (2) a diner proprietor? Just curious.
  • An eatery called Potato Valley Cafe is planning to open its second are location in the "China"town-Penn Quarter-Gallery Place neighborhood. Potato Valley almost exclusively serves potato-based dishes - 40 different types of potato dishes, in fact. The WBJ couldn't help themselves - they just had to describe the cafe's growth by using the verb "sprouting up."
  • The location of the now-defunct nightclub Kili's Kafe (formerly club 2K9), near the intersection of U and 8th streets NW, was up for auction a few weeks ago, but the seller canceled the auction "when it became clear the bidders weren't prepared to pay the $9.9 million asking price." The seller, who paid $7 million for the property in 2004, apparently wasn't aware that greater Washington's real estate market "has officially started its summer vacation" (which I also learned from the WBJ today...)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

My Sober Adventure on U Street

I first saw him as I left Chi Cha Lounge. He was on the other side of U Street in front of those drab, brown-brick residential high-rises, holding onto a fence post for balance. Whatever energy he had left at 2am on a nascent Saturday morning was expended on trying to keep himself upright and balanced. He wasn't having much luck.

Under normal circumstances, I probably wouldn't have paid him much mind. I may not have even noticed him. But unlike everyone else's on U Street last night, my faculties hadn't been impaired by hours upon hours of drinking. I had a few glasses of wine earlier in the evening, but I switched to club soda at around 10pm for the remainder of the night.

(Why club soda, you ask? Because everyone assumes it's either gin- or vodka-and-tonic. That way, you can avoid the astonished and somewhat accusatory questions demanding an explanation for why you're not drinking, as if choosing not to drink on a Friday night were symptomatic of deeply-seeded antisocial and/or threatening behavior. Also, club soda tastes sufficiently bad so as to fool your palate into thinking you are drinking. This strategy only fails when someone offers to buy you a drink or proceeds to buy you a drink without your knowledge. No one, however, has ever offered to buy me a drink, so this has never been a problem for me. But I digress...)

"Look at that guy across the street," I remarked to my housemate, pgh girl. "He's in pretty bad shape. We should see if he's okay."

(As you can tell, I'm still feeling more than a bit guilty from watching some guy get mugged right in front of my house and doing absolutely nothing about it...)

"I'm hungry," she replied. "Let's stop at McDonald's - I want a cheeseburger."

See, my roommate did not subject herself to the same self-imposed drinking constraints that I subjected myslef to last night. Hence, the drunk, barely conscious man dangling from a fence across the street or my attempt to draw attention to his existence did not register with her. Outmatched by the allure of a McDonald's cheeseburger, I begrudgingly forged ahead on U Street.

But sometimes you just can't escape destiny. As we were waiting in the interminable line at the McDonald's "walk-up" window, I heard some commotion behind me. I turned around to see the object of my previous curiosity stumbling down the street. And I mean that literally - he was stumbling down 14th Street into oncoming traffic, completely unaware of his surroundings yet somehow pirouetting between the motorists as they swerved past him at full speed, honking their horns in surprise, anger, and warning.

"That guy's going to get himself killed. I'll meet you at home." I took leave of my housemate and darted across the street, almost causing an accident myself in the process. I grabbed my new acquaintence and led him over to a stoop, ignoring his muffled protests along the way.

"What's your name man?"

"Mwweahw," he unhelpfully replied.

By this time, my housemate (who had ignored my subtle request to go home) had made her way over to us, McDonald's bag in tow.

"What's his name?" she asked through a mouthful of french fries.

"I have no idea. But I'm not dealing with this. I'm calling an ambulance."

Not knowing precisely how to call an ambulance, I called 911 hoping that they could call an ambulance for me. A woman answered immediately.

"What's the emergency?" she asked.

I was seemingly unprepared for this question. "Um, some guy's tripping balls out here, um, on U Street."

"Excuse me?"

I collected my thoughts. "Um, there's a barely conscious man here on 14th and U Streets, the Northeast corner."

"So you're at 14th and U, Northeast?"

I clarified. "No no, the Northeast corner of 14th and U Northwest."

"Where??"

"Near Republic Gardens."

This apparently resonated with her. "Oh. An emergency response team will be there right away."

I walked back to the stoop, where my housemate was giving a pep talk to our new friend.

"You can go home now," I said to pgh girl. "I'll wait here with him until the ambulance comes so he doesn't get jacked."

"You called an ambulance!? Why? He just needs a cab. His name's Andrew, and he's visiting his sister."

While I was impressed at my housemate's ability to translate our new friend's muddled nonsense into English, I was unmoved by her plea.

"Oh really? I bet he doesn't even know where his sister lives."

Pgh girl was defiant. "Well we won't know unless we ask. Where does your sister live Andrew?"

"4608 North Georgetown Street, Arlington," Andrew garbled before passing out.

"See? Let's just put him in a cab and give the cabie some money to take him there," pgh girl suggested.

"Um, I'm pretty familiar with Arlington, and I don't think North Georgetown Street exists."

"Well, whatever we do, we can't call an ambulance," she replied. "He's perfectly fine."

At that, we both glanced over at Andrew, who was either channeling the minions of satan or vomiting in his mouth.

Pgh girl had a sudden change of heart. "You know what? I'll just meet you at home. I really want to eat this cheeseburger."

____________________

It didn't take long for the emergency response team to get there. I told them what happened, gave them my business card in case they had any follow-up questions, and headed home. I slept well last night, comforted by the prospect of a productive, hangover-free Saturday.

Andrew, if this post somehow finds you (stranger things have happened), I hope you're doing okay.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

E-vite Etiquette: Redux

That e-vite post generated a lively discussion indeed. Everyone's unequivocal support - with the exception of Aye.list, who wins the Christopher Hitchens Contrarian of the Week award (your autographed copy of The Missionary Position is en route) - is very much appreciated. Of all the feedback I received, I thought Conor's mini-psychoanalysis of AJ summed up the situation perfectly:

"What I find most upsetting, as I always would, is A.J.'s chronic need to feel important. He invited 60 folks to your party because he wants to be associated with it in the minds of those he invites, whether they ultimately attend or not. As I recall, this same rhymes-with-mouchebag tried to take credit as author of your humorous party FAQ e-mail last fall. [Ed. Note: Emphasis added. We'll get back to this in a bit.]

Back to my point though. The subtext of each of his faux-'live and let live' e-mails is 'I am cool. I am important. I matter. See?':

E.g.

'A friend of mine wrote an article for the NYTimes about Evites that mentioned me.'

'Should be good, I'll try to make it.'

'Understand where I'm coming from...I get a lot of evites. Many people send me evites all the time with the intent to have me send it around to good folks. Very often, people even ask me to so that they get a better turnout of good folks even asking me to reply 'yes' to an evite even if I can't make it. I've even been approached to promote events and such as well through evite, have never done it. Those are much, much bigger lists of acquaintences. I sent your soiree to close friends . . .'

To paraphrase Madame Thatcher, being important is like being a lady; if you have to tell people you are, you aren't.

Also, a man who I count among my most admired once wrote,

'Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm. But the harm does not interest them.'

JS, you do not have enough time on Earth to waste time with a trifling nobody like this. Find a new basketball team and respect yourself.

_______________

Now, I never do anything without a reason. And while I found Conor's comment to be well-articulated and spot-on, I wouldn't have reposted it if it didn't give me an excuse to post the "humorous party FAQ e-mail" from our adult-themed party last fall. Many people found it hilarious, and even I was able to swallow my humility for a few days to bask in the glow of my comedic achievement. Enjoy... (and yes, AJ Hawk did tell the 30 or so people whom he invited that he was the author...):

We've been receiving a lot of inquiries about the Pornland on U Street party this Saturday. Accordingly, we'd like to take this time to address some of your questions and concerns so that you're fully prepared to enjoy yourself at Café 227 this weekend. If any of the questions or answers below are unclear, please click on the hyperlinks within the text for more information. If you cannot access the hyperlinks, it's probably time to trade in that Commodore 64 for something a little more contemporary - and you should probably upgrade to Gmail while you're at it.

Frequently Asked Questions ("FAQs")

Q: Is this, like, a swinger party? I mean, are there going to be people engaging in lewd acts in full view of everyone? This sounds shady.

A: No, this is NOT a swinger party. This is a regular house party with drinking, dancing, and general merriment. There may be people engaging in lewd acts, but nothing more explicit than what you would witness at, say, Third Edition on a typical Saturday night.

Q: I hate Third Edition, and I haven't been there since I was 19.

A: Okay, Stetson's. Whatever.

Q: So, then, what exactly makes it a "porno" party?

A: Well, first of all, there will be video entertainment (apropos of the theme, of course) projected onto our living room wall. But nothing too raunchy, as we wouldn't want to offend anyone's sensibilities (think Japanese Anime). Second, there will be adult-themed decorations and beverages. And third, many of the hosts and guests will be in costume. That said, I can assure you that it will NOT resemble this party at all.

Q: So wait, do I have to dress-up like a porn-star?

A: You don't have to dress up, but you wouldn't be out of place if you did. I mean, if your best friend Prudence McPuritan wants to come in her nun habit, no one's going to hate on her. But then again, if she's feeling a bit plucky and she wants dust off the old fishnets for the night, she'd fit right in. Similarly, if your friend Johnny Shades wants to grow a porn 'stache and wear a wife-beater for the occasion, he'd be right at home.

Q: This still sounds shady as hell. Is this why you guys are all single?

A: Umm, well… let's just move on…

Q: Is a party like this even legal?

A: Probably not in Virginia. But in DC, not only is it completely legal, it's also unofficially sponsored by the Georgetown Law Center. As you may or may not know, law students are especially repressed and bromidic, so they rely on "forced fun" events such as this to unwind before settling into a lifetime of utter banality.

Q: Okay, so I've decided to come (against my better judgment). Is it at your house or some bar I've never heard of? I mean, where the heck is "Café 227"?

A: Café 227 IS our house. Since our address is [#][#]227 [REDACTED] Street NW, we've nicknamed our house "Café 227".

Q: I'm confused. Since your address is [#][#]227 [REDACTED] Street, shouldn't it be "Café [#][#]227"? You guys are not only shady, but illiterate as well.

A: Actually, it's an homage to the vastly underrated '80s sitcom "227", which was arguably the pinnacle of artistic achievement arising out of the situational comedy genre in the 1980s. If you don't remember this show, you're probably too young to come to our party anyway. I think Saturdays are "18-and-over" nights at Platinum, so you should try that.

Q: Is there parking around Café 227?

A: Trust us, you're not going to be in any condition to drive home after the party, even with DC's new relaxed DUI laws. We suggest taking the Metro - we're literally one block away from the U Street/Cardozo stop on the green line, and if you're in costume, you'll fit right in with all the other vagrants who ride the green line on Saturday night. If you live in Northern Virginia and are consequently opposed to mass transit, we suggest you take a cab.

Q: Who Mike Jones?

A: http://www.whomikejones.com/

Q: Do I have to pay for the honor of attending this party? And should I bring any alcohol?

A: Pornland on U Street will be entirely financed by your gracious hosts and hostesses, so it's completely free of charge to you. In addition, you are under no obligation to bring any alcohol. (Frankly, we'll be too drunk to remember who brings what.) If you do choose to bring alcohol, however, we will certainly be grateful. It's worth considering that the party will last as long as the drink supply does, so it may behoove you to bring a gift for the bar.

Q: Okay then, I've decided to bring some alcohol as a token of my gratitude. How do you feel about a nice Pinot Grigio?

A: Whoa, slow down. If you DO decide to bring something, for heaven's sake do NOT bring wine. It's clearly not that kind of party. We would appreciate something more, um, hardcore - think Vodka , Jack, malt liquor, Mad Dog 20/20, or even Cisco if you happen to be up on Georgia Avenue before the party.

Q: I'd LOVE to come to your party (really, I would), but Gwen Stefani's playing that night at the Patriot Center and I just have to go see her. Maybe next time.

A: Are we in junior high? You're kidding, right? Look, we may not have Gwen Stefani, but we've got FunkDC's Kidgusto and Moose. Those two are bananas. [B-A-N-A-N-A-S]
very own

Q: I'd LOVE to come to your party (really, I would), but my family's in town and I have to spend time with them. Maybe next time.

A: Okay, that's just lame. What are you going to do with your family on a Saturday night in DC? Wait, let me guess - go to dinner at Lauriol Plaza, right? What are you, some sort of left-wing radical? Look, Aunt Cheryl and Uncle Dennis can get crappy Mexican food back home in Boise. But this will probably be their only opportunity to attend a porno-themed party. So bring them.

Q: Seriously, is there a worse starting or reserve QB in the league right now than Tommy Maddox

A: Well, I think a case can be made for Vinny Testaverde's exhumed corpse , but no.

Well, that seems to be all the questions you guys have for now. If you haven't done so already, please respond to the e-vite when you get a chance – it'll help us determine how much alcohol to buy, and we all know how important that is. We look forward to seeing you on Saturday.

It's always in Pittsburgh...

"An 80-year-old man acknowledged Wednesday that he dealt drugs at his house in return for sex with prostitutes." Why did he engage in this reprehensible behavior, you ask? "He decided it's cheaper to pay for sex with crack than cash."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bar Louie Coming to Clarendon North

Erin Killian from the Washington Business Journal reports that the Chicago-based chain Bar Louie will making its debut in the Washington, DC area when it opens its mammoth, 10,000 square foot restaurant/bar in the-neighborhood-formerly- known-as-Chinatown later this year. The article doesn't specify, but I'm sure there will be tacky Chinese lettering above the entranceway as a meaningless (if not somewhat disdainful) nod to the neighborhood's previous incarnation. I'm sure that within a year, Bar Louie will win a Rammy award for the area's "hottest bar scene" and will top the list of nominations for "best neighborhood bar" in the Washington Post's "Best Bets" survey.

Seriously, is there a more contrived, corporate, chain-dominated neighborhood on the east coast? I was going to suggest that it be renamed "Clarendon North," but that's no longer a fair characterization of Northern Virginia. I've repeatedly come to the defense of DC in those tired yet ubiquitous DC-vs.-NoVa arguments by arguing that DC's neighborhoods are so much more unique and diverse and hip, but my position is becoming increasingly indefensible. My own neighborhood, U Street - once the most dynamic neighborhood in the city - has largely been transformed into a soulless abomination. At the same time, I keep discovering hidden gems in NoVa that are flourishing. For instance, the same issue of the Washington Business Journal that trumpets the arrival of Bar Louie also briefly mentions that Del Ray was recently named one of the 10 best "cottage communities" in America by Cottage Living magazine, partly because of the neighborhood's quirky, independently-owned businesses such as The Dairy Godmother. Or, take a more obvious example - if you really wanted an authentic Asian shopping/dining experience in this area, would you be more inclined to hop on the green line to "Chinatown" or take a drive out to Eden Center?

Now, I'm willing to admit that the development around "Chinatown" following the construction of the MCI/Verizon Center has been a net positive for the city. I used to frequent Casbah and The Bank (now Home and Platinum respectively, I think) a decade ago as a young and clueless undergrad, and I even occasionally worked the door at Coco Loco (now RFD) for a promoter named "Umberto." It was scary down there - broken windows on empty storefronts, no signs of life whatsoever. The development of the neighborhood over the past decade has been nothing short of remarkable.

That said, the largely corporate origins of the overhaul has left the neighborhood sterile, contrived, and rather devoid of character. Hopefully, current development efforts in other DC neighborhoods will be more organic and less run-of-the mill. Early signs are promising...

Tupac Lives!

And so does Dave Chappelle...

Monday, July 10, 2006

This Is Too Easy...

In a breaking news story, Baltimore Ravens LB Roderick Green was stabbed in the parking lot after an altercation in a bowling alley. Now a stronger man than me (or perhaps a non-ATLien) might be able to resist the temptation to go for the cheap joke, but, alas, I am weak...

The police say that their prime suspect is someone close to Green, mentally unstable, and with a penchant for violence. He was last seen wearing a #52 jersey.


Saturday, July 08, 2006

E-vite Etiquette

I don't usually post personal stuff up here, but this really chapped my ass and I'd like to gauge the public's opinion on this. First, some background: Cafe 227 is throwing a party later this month (we do this from time to time to keep the masses happy). The three of us who actually live here ("pgh girl," "lady of the house," and me) bear the entire expense of these parties equally, including but not limited to beer (a substantial amount), liquor (also, a substantial amount), mixers, the DJ (not inexepensive), guest bartenders, decorations, various sundries, and the post-party cleaning crew. It's an expensive night for all of us, yet well worth it - it's an opportunity for us to reconnect with people whom we haven't seen in a while, and it's personally rewarding to continually throw the dopest parties in town. (And make no mistake, our parties are the dopest.)

Now, there's this guy I know - let's call him AJ Hawk (after my favorite young NFL prospect). I like AJ. But I don't know AJ very well. He's a friend of a friend, and we play basketball together occassionally, but that's really it. Nonetheless, I usually invite AJ to our parties. Last winter, we threw an ill-conceived yet incredibly fun adult entertainment-themed party to which I invited AJ. He called me up and asked if he could forward the e-vite to some of his friends. Of course, I had no objection. The thing is, he forwarded it on to 30+ people before I had to eventually disable the "invite more people" option on the e-vite. I casually confronted AJ about this (i.e., "You know AJ, when you said 'some' friends, I thought you meant 3 or 4..."), and he kind of bristled and gave me a circuitous answer ("well, I've got a lot of friends, and most of them won't come anyway..."), and that was that. I assumed he had gotten the point - that we (the 4 other financiers and I) were uncomfortable with him inviting such a large number of people whom we didn't know to a party we were paying for - and I didn't want to belabor the issue.

Now, fast forward to earlier this week - I'm about to send the e-vite out for our upcoming party, and I'm deciding whether or not to include AJ. On one hand, I thought, I like AJ and he always enjoys our parties, but on the other hand, AJ might forward it to 30 people again. Ultimately, I decided to include AJ - I figured he got the hint last time, and if he didn't, I would just tell him "no" when he asked me if he could invite some friends this time.

The thing is, AJ didn't ask this time - he just went ahead and added 60+ of his closest friends to the e-vite.

Yesterday, during a particularly boring conference call, I decided to check the responses to the e-vite. That's when I noticed that the list of invitees swelled from 160 to 220 overnight. And of course, all the new names I didn't recognize were added by one guest: AJ. I was apoplectic. I shot AJ an angry e-mail, and we went back and forth. Here's the correspondence in its entirety:

_____________________

From: [Johnny Shades]
To: [AJ]
Subject: Are you serious

[AJ], you forwarded the evite to our party to over 60 people. Are you f-ing insane!? I mean, 3 or 4 people is one thing - but 60!?
_____________________

From: [AJ]
To: [Johnny Shades]
Subject: Re: Are you serious

Maybe 5 of them will come - don't be an evite-nazi.

You're porn party was a hit, wasn't it?
_____________________

From: [Johnny Shades]
To: [AJ]
Subject: Re: Are you serious

[AJ], there's an objective difference between being an "e-vite nazi" and objecting to a guest forwarding an e-vite to 60+ people. Seriously, what goes through your mind - "here are three people (only one of whom I actually know) who are spending several hundred dollars of their hard-earned money to have their friends and acquaintences for a party at their house, which can only fit 100 or so people anyway. What the heck, I think I'll invite 60 of my friends whom no one knows to drink their alcohol."

Seriously, think about how inconsiderate that is.

___________________

From: [AJ]
To: [Johnny Shades]
Subject: Re: Are you serious

It's at a bar isn't it?

There are a lot of better or comparable options that night anyway, I wouldn't worry about it.

A friend of mine wrote an article for the NYTimes about Evites that mentioned me. She also said how Evites have created in some a "virtual-bouncer" like mentality due to the obsessive oversight allowed by evite that can go into planning a party...

_____________________

From: [Johnny Shades]
To: [AJ]
Subject: Re: Are you serious

It's at our house, not at a bar. And again, "obsessive oversight" is a lot different than "inviting 60 f*cking people that no one knows." Everyone's inviting 2 or 3 other people, that's fine. You invited 60 - or more than 1/3 of our original list of 160. That's right - you forwarded the invite to more people than either [girl of the house], [pgh girl], or me - who actually live at the house and are paying for the party. Don't get defensive, just think about how inconsiderate that is. Absolutely NO ONE else who was invited forwarded it on to more than 4 or 5 other people. That says something about acceptable social behavior, don't you think?

___________________

From: [AJ]
To: [Johnny Shades]
Subject: Re: Are you serious

Many were folks you had at your porn party...thus me forwarding it to them.

This is funny because obviously if you wanted a closed invite list, you would've turned off the invite more people option

Don't sweat it, maybe 3-5 of them will come.

Should be good, I'll try to make it.

_____________________

From: [Johnny Shades]
To: [AJ]
Subject: Re: Are you serious

I don't think I'm conveying how angry I am in the e-mail. I hope you can make it, but I also hope you realize what you did is completely socially unacceptable and thoughtless. I mean, we want people to invite 3 or 4 of their friends. But 60? Imagine if everyone invited 60 other people...

___________________

From: [AJ]
To: [Johnny Shades]
Subject: Re: Are you serious

I'm sorry. I had no idea. I'll tell folks not to come. I figured if you wanted to actually talk with me about something you would have had the courage to call and not send an email, which I took lightly.

Understand where I'm coming from...I get a lot of evites. Many people send me evites all the time with the intent to have me send it around to good folks. Very often, people even ask me to so that they get a better turnout of good folks even asking me to reply 'yes' to an evite even if I can't make it. I've even been approached to promote events and such as well through evite, have never done it. Those are much, much bigger lists of acquaintences. I sent your soiree to close friends in light of thinking it was at a bar called 'cafe something'.

Listen, it would be thoughtless and unacceptable if 50 people showed up at your house, and trashed it. If a virtual rsvp counter has 50 people who won't make the party, (maybe a few people that would stop by for an hour) I think you are getting angry over nothing esp. since it's a long time away away from what will be a packed weekend of parties.
_____________

At that point, I was too furious to respond, and someone was asking me something in the conference call that I had to scramble to answer since I wasn't paying attention for the last 45 minutes. But that last e-mail left me livid. I mean first of all, he knows that Cafe 227 is our house, not a bar - he's been to our parties before. Second, I don't know if he's serious about people asking him to promote their parties for them - but even if that's true, why would he assume that's what we wanted? Seriously, why we would he assume - without asking me - that we wanted him to invite 60 of his so-called "close friends" (and who has 60 close friends anyway!?!) because they are supposedly good folks and their appearance alone on the e-vite would lead to a better turnout? Third, I was enraged that he suggested I didn't have the "courage" to call him in the middle of a workday while on a conference call, and that me not calling him somehow meant that I wasn't serious.

Anyway, I'm not posting this lengthy, rambling diatribe to call AJ Hawk out in a public forum. Well I am, kind of. But I'm also curious to hear what you think. Is there something I'm missing here? Was I justified in my indignation? Or is AJ right - am I being an overly obsessive "e-vite nazi"?

Friday, July 07, 2006

Why Superman Sucks.

I don't watch a lot of movies, so I typically shy away from giving movie reviews. After all, reviewing anything is an exercise in relativity - a movie, book, or song can only be judged based on the comparative "quality" (however you want to define it) of other movies, books, or songs in a particular genre. Having not seen many movies, I generally don't feel comfortable giving my opinion on any one movie, because really, what the hell do I know? Usually, not much. (e.g., I think Ghostbusters is among the best five films of all time.)

That said, Superman Returns sucked. There are many reasons for this, but I will only cover three today for the sake of brevity.

(1) Length - Unless we're talking about an international flight or open-heart surgery, 2.5 hours is entirely too long to sit still for anything.

(2) Casting - The casting miscues were numerous and egregious:

  • Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor: Look, I like Kevin Spacey. Actually, that's a lie - I think he's smug and has an inflated sense of self-importance. Regardless, Gene Hackman's still alive, right? And he doesn't look so bad for his age either. So why not make him Lex Luthor again? I think he did a fine job the first two times around, and he's not a smug and self-important dick.
  • Brandon Routh as Superman: Someone give me one good reason why Kiefer Sutherland wasn't cast in this role. The only reason I can think of is that it would have been too much of a stretch to imagine Jack Bauer being vulnerable to kryptonite.
  • Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane: Superman is the baddest individual on earth. Kate Bosworth is a marginally attractive woman with no sex apeal. Seriously, Superman would go nuts over her? It's simply not believable.
  • Kumar as Lex Luthor's most prominent silent crony: Look, I know brown people are generally cast in these roles because the brown skin makes them look more sinister. And as a brown person myself, I accept that. But make no mistake: Kumar is not a credible villain. In his only other major feature film, he made out with a giant bag of weed. He is destined to be typecast, and the type is decidedly not "evil villain."


(3) Premise - This isn't the movie's fault at all, but the premise behind Superman just doesn't make a lot of sense. It's not believable. I mean, with Spiderman, Peter Parker gets bitten by a genetically-modified spider, so he becomes a bit quicker and stronger than most humans and can shoot lines of spider web from his wrists. Makes perfect logical sense. With Batman, Bruce Wayne doesn't really have any superpowers at all - he's just an angst-ridden, post-modern, urban Ninja with superior technology. Again, makes sense to me. But with Superman - he's a space alien who flies despite the absence of any discernable wings, he can inexplicably shoot rays out of his eyes, and he's strong enough to move the planet earth. Yet his parents, from whom he presumably inherited these powers, couldn't escape their planet before it was destroyed. Why didn't they just push it to a safer part of the galaxy? I mean, clearly I'm willing to suspend reality in a superhero movie, but I cannot and will not forgive internal inconsitency. For instance, Superman claims at one point in the movie that he can hear everything - so why didn't he just hear Lex Luthor discuss his plans to take over the world and pre-emptively stop it? It would have saved me at least two hours.


UPDATE: One more thing that really bothers me - why can't anyone figure out that Superman and Clark Kent are the same person? I mean, I usually wear contacts to work. Sometimes - say, when I've too much to drink the night before - I wear glasses. When I do, at no point does anyone not recognize me. The most dramatic reaction I get is: "Decided to wear glasses today, huh? I told you ordering the vodka sampler at the Russia House on a Tuesday night was a bad idea..." So, considering that the only difference in facial appearance between Clark Kent and Superman is a pair of eyeglasses, why can't anyone figure out that Clark Kent is Superman? They were both away for the same length of time, they both appeared the same day, they look exactly the same... I just can't accept this. I'm sorry, I just can't.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Oh, And I Forgot This...

...but it probably deserves a post of its own anyway.

  • WKYS is holding a "full and fabulous" beauty pageant. Potential contestents were urged to submit pictures of themselves and explain why they are full and fabulous (but they only had 93 words to do it, because I'm sure the pictures spoke volumes). Ten contestants were ultimately selected to compete in the pageant, which will be held tomorrow at - - wait for it - - Gladys' and Ron's Chicken and Waffles in Largo, MD. Now, I'm not hating on bigger women. And no one should be made to feel bad about themselves because of their weight. But, doesn't this contest celebrate (and almost incentivize) unhealthy behavior while concurrently reinforcing negative racial stereotypes? I mean, holding a "full and fabulous" pageant in Gladys' and Ron's Chicken and Waffles, of all places?

Some Quick Thoughts This Afternoon...

With all this catching up at work to do, I have nary a free minute to put together a coherent post. The best I can offer you this afternoon is an assorted sampling of links...

  • I wish the Cambodia Daily were online. You have no idea how prevalent stories like this are over there. It's a comedic goldmine, especially if stories about maladjusted monkeys is your idea of comedic gold.
  • In other strange news of South Asia, "[h]undreds of people are thronging a hospital in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata to see a patient holding a piece of his own skull that fell off." Is it me, or does India seem to have a disproportionately large share of worldwide medical oddities? Also, as Doza so eloquently noted in an e-mail earlier today, "don't they have jobs or anything else to do besides crowd around a bed?!"
  • Another link courtesy of Doza - the breathalyzer cell-phone is now a reality. I distinctly remember Doza articulating this idea to me in the Spring of 2001. See, it's not that Lady Fortune hasn't been beckoning, it's just that we haven't been listening to her.
  • Does anything bring the worst out in people quite like the World Cup? Europe, Asia... it doesn't matter where you're from.
  • On a serious note for once, in response to the attack of the killer pit-bull post, a friend sent me this excellent piece by Malcolm Gladwell that originally appeared in The New Yorker in which he provides compelling evidence that pit bulls are no more dangerous than the general dog population while simultaneously presenting a cogent argument against racial profiling. Gladwell at his best.
  • Finally, thanks to DCist for bringing this video to my attention in commemoration of Independence Day. God bless America.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Independence Day!

Greetings and Salutations!

I pray all is well with everyone in Cafe 227. I am enjoying my day off in the computer lab with the rest of the losers a.k.a. students. This is week 7 and I am ready to jump off a bridge. Allright, it isn't that bad but it does get boring. The food is killing my gastric system, the bugs are all over me like a poor person on free government cheese, and my body is tired. But other than that, all is well. I have taken three tests and passed them all (my standards have reverted back to Georgetown circa 1997) and the next hurdle is to qualify shooting my lovely Sig Sauer P229 .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol on Thursday. I don't expect any problems. This past weekend Autumn and I listened to a band in Raleigh, NC who we want to play at our wedding. They sounded great so we have booked them. Check out their website: www.spoonfulofsoul.com. One thing down, 25 million to go. Speaking of which, I already emailed a couple of people but if anyone knows someone who wants nice housing in Alexandria check out our posting at craigslist http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/nva/apa/178278555.html.
Shameless advertising, I know, but what the hell? Also, I will be selling my car in the near future so if anybody wants a 2000 Mazda 626 in great condition let me know. I have no idea what is going on in the rest of the world, but I am sure it is negative and depressing. It is so nice to not watch television, especially the news, down here in Bumblefuckville, GA. I am in a state of blissful ignorance. Is Dubs still the President? Anyway, I am off to lunch. Stay cool wherever you may be and be safe.

Big Worm

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Cujo Terrorizes Pittsburgh Neighborhood!

An enraged pit-bull terrorized my childhood neighborhood in Pittsburgh last night. Of course, my 13-year old brother (we'll call him "Matty Shades") was wholly unconcerned with the safety of the neighborhood residents or the well-being of the bitten "post-office man"; he was just happy he made the news. Check out the video here, courtesy of KDKA.com. Matty Shades is among the group of assorted Brookline miscreant teenagers. He's the one with the grey t-shirt, white gym shorts, and what appear to be black biking gloves (he and I will have a conversation about that at a later date). The children are visibly terrified (by "terrified," I mean "giddy to be on television.")

Kudos to KDKA correspondent/U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney for his scoop on this.

(Above: A shaken Matty Shades contemplates his mortality in the background.)

[Update: I just watched the video again and had a realization - Gloria Bickerton, who used to own Bickerton's general store on Brookline Boulevard, dropped to the ground because she "seen the bullets flying." That's right, she said that she can see flying bullets. Who is she, Neo? I wonder if she can see the matrix yet, or does that come later? For the record, I really doubt she saw the bullets flying, because I used to steal lemonheads from her store when I was 11 years old and she never saw that...]