Tuesday, April 12, 2005

48 Hours in the Nation's Capital (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1

Okay, let's get this motherfucker written up while we're still young.

12:00 pm

Total touristiness. We hit the Cherry Blossom Festival. There's actually no cherry blossom to be found anywhere near the festival. A lot of product placements, some cultural stuff and a giant inflatable bottle of Sapporo, but no sign of the cherry blossom.

So Maureen and I go in search of the pink stuff. We pass by the White House, get yelled at by a cop for stepping outside the chains. Not our fault though. It's impossible to walk on the sidewalk with so many people stopping by the fence to look at the building. What for? Not like anyone important lives there.

We stop by the World War II Memorial. I like this memorial, even if my country did end up on the losing side. No, I'm over that now. I like that it has a lot of open, circular space for people to roam or rest. Much more people-friendly than the other monuments in the area.

Washington Monument, probably the most underwhelming monument in the 'hood, is even uglier than usual since they're doing some construction and all the grass around it is gone.

Anyhoo, we get down to the Tidal Basin and, at the risk of losing my Dude Card, them cherry blossoms are pretty. I think they were also supposed to help me get back in touch with my Japanese roots but I don't know, being in the capital of the Yoo-nited States doesn't exactly leave in the mood for tea ceremonies.

The joint was superpacked, though Maureen and I managed to find a spot to chill under a cherry tree. We didn't make it out to the Jefferson Memorial - way too crowded, which seemed to be the theme of the weekend in DC. Who knew the Cherry Blossom Festival was so huge?

9:30 pm

At Black Cat to see Bloc Party. I know I know, I'd already seen them perform two nights earlier but I figured the tickets were only $12 a pop and if I hated them on Thursday, I could just ditch the show. Well, I enjoyed them at the Bowery despite the non-dancers in the audience others noted. And I was a little peeved to read that they killed on Friday, but really, I can't complain. I was in middle, reasonably near the stage and I was happily hopping away.

Fast forward back to tonight. I was looking forward to seeing Montreal's Chromeo perform but to my disappointment, they weren't on the bill tonight, and in their place were Pony Up, another Montreal band (is there anyone in Montreal who isn't in a band these days? The place like Athens and Chapel Hill and Seattle and Austin combined). I was pleasantly surprised by Pony Up though - they had the crowd mildly rocking by the end of their set.

Next up, The Ponys, not to be confused with, you know. I liked the 10 minutes I saw of them Thursday - I liked them okay. Good heavy guitars, but not terribly exciting either.

And finally, Bloc Party. Okay, I'm going to take this opportunity to bitch about the venue. The biggest problems are the size and the layout. It's a big enough room, but because the stage was pretty narrow and there's a lot of obstructed-view area on the sides, combined with the low stage, the audience ended up squeezing towards the middle. The low ceilings weren't helping either. Also, if you're 5'8" or taller, you really shouldn't be standing in the front unless you're Bloc Party's Biggest Fan Ever. And I wasn't too happy about the exit situation either. There's only one non-fire exit in the back, leading to a set of stairs that aren't quite wide enough for the crowd size. I honestly felt a wee bit nervous getting out of there.

But back to Bloc Party. Much ball was had by us, as expected. I was jumping up and down for pretty much the whole show and sweating out the toxins. Okay, not to keep on bitching, but again, too many people standing around like they're at a Matt Pond, PA. Look, when you come to a Bloc Party show, you either bounce, dance, or Pogo. There simply is no excuse for failing to get down. And when Kele tells you to clap, you clap. Sheesh. And for the love of Lohan, don't push through the crowd to get to a better position while the band is playing and other people are trying to have fun.

No, really, I did have a good time and I assume Maureen did too, though my ears were ringing and I haven't heard a word she said. As I said before, I haven't had that much fun at a concert since the now legendary (I think) 2002 Hives show at the Bowery. If you love to jump up and down like an idiot, they're your band, and they'll be playing Webster Hall in June. Get tickets. You won't regret it. Better yet, get me tickets and I'll buy you a beer.


Back to touristiness. Checked out the reflecting pool, Lincoln Memorial. Watched some rugby - you know, it wasn't like I was ever good at rugby and my skinny ass was a total fish out of water playing the sport, but damn, do I miss the violence.

More things I notice about DC - they don't have Starbucks every other block and they really, really like their Washington Nationals merchandise. I totally forgot they have a baseball team now, but good lord, they must be making a killing, considering they've been around, like 2 months?

We go up to Dupont Circle for lunch. Nice neighborhood. Reminds me a bit of the Upper West Side, but with more white people. We bump into Maureen's friends drinking in the park, so we chill out until it's time for me to go catch my bus.

4:35 pm

My bus is scheduled to leave at 5 pm. Feels way too early but I seriously didn't expect the weather to be so nice this weekend. We get to the pick up location and the bus is already there and loading. I get in, and much to my surprise, this bus doesn't have the restroom smell. Score! But alas, the two open seats I see are taken. I hear the operator-looking dude say something about "another bus", but I don't trust these people.

At 4:45-ish, the 5:00 bus unceremoniously pulls out, leaving a crowd of dust and about a dozen semi-worried looking travelers. My mistrust of the Chinatown bus turns out to be unfounded, and a fresh bus pulls in. And this one doesn't have the restroom smell either! Maureen and I say our good bye and I board the bus. Shortly after 5, I am headed back to the big city.

7:30 (?) pm

I slept for about 30 minutes but I haven't been able to sleep much. I'm getting hungry and thirsty, and as soon as we enter New Jersey, we pull into a rest stop. "10 minutes!" the driver yells. I head straight for the food court. I'm thinking Nathan's Famous, but the gods conspire against me, putting in a bunch of traveling cheerleaders between me and getting my food within 10 minutes. Damn cheerleaders. Always out to get me.

I settle for a bottle of water and a long ass beef jerky. So about 15 minutes later, the driver does a head count. We're missing 3 people, apparently. Can't we just leave them here? How expensive would it be to catch a cab back into the city? Come on!

The bus driver is a more compassionate man than I, and he goes into the rest stop and looks for the passengers. 10 minutes later, we're off with everyone on board. Damn.

9:45 pm

Oh, sweet Chinatown. I'm back. Guess air or rail are much more comfortable and if I could round trip for less than $100, I would seriously consider other options. But no matter the cost, no other mode of transport is going to drop me off 3 minutes from my apartment. Chinatown Buses, for all your faults, I got no complaints against you. I shall ride you again, long and hard.

<< Home