DC 3 + 4

DC 3
(mostly written last night, but suddenly iPad wouldn't let me scroll to the bottom of the page to keep writing)

First: dear Google, fuck you. I don't want to use your social media application. Fuck off.

Slept in again, this time exclusively due to the allergies.

In a rush, train to Gallery Place. Austin Grill because fast. National Gallery.

Modern Art really feels like in belongs in a museum now. Fewer and fewer paintings seem to be able to take me anywhere. Now that the line has ended in nowhere.

I could just be narrowing my tastes as I learn more, though. Rothko, Pollock, maybe I only cared when I did just because I was impressed.

Going to go to the West Wing tomorrow. All things being equal now, I think I may appreciate Italian paintings of Jesus and Mary more than ever.

After painting, walking. Oh so much. Walked through L'Enfant Plaza, then West, to Georgetown again. Wisconsin Avenue all the way up to the Friendship Heights metro station. Metro back to hotel. Well-needed rest and reading.

Here's the interesting part. Train back to Gallery Place, quick pizza at Matchbox. Walk to L'Enfant Plaza. Pictures taken around midnight. Walk all the way back to UDC metro station, with a quick stop for one beer at, you guessed it, Pharmacy.

Am tired. I might actually get up early and "do something" before I head back to Providence.

You may have noticed that I don't seem up to much besides wandering, eating, drinking, and sleeping. It's true. There are reasons. First off, I'm from here. All the touristy things I have ever been interested in doing have been done. Secondly, I am kind of broke. The most astute comment ever, said by a random girl, and overheard by me as I walked behind her and her friend in Georgetown years and years ago now: without the shopping, there'd be nothing to do. Thirdly, most of the people who made my life here are long gone. There were only a few people to contact and, well, for various reasons, no plans could be made. And lastly, the corny part.

I'm trying to find myself.

There, I said it, and it sounds stupid. But hear me out. I barely have a family, have been without love for a long time, and my friends are spread all over the country. I think, on some level, and, especially given the solitude of my childhood, DC itself has played the part of a person in my life more than people themselves. The city itself allows me to understand my own narrative, to place myself in context.

Here, in Providence, where I have lived less than two years, where I don't go to museums or art films with anyone, where I have never played as a DJ, where I can count on maybe two hands the truly satisfying meals I have had, and probably need only one hand to count meals of quality shared with others, I really feel that I am not known in any way. I'm just the bartender who works on music nobody has ever heard. Sometimes I go our for drinks. That's it. Nothing formative or memorable. At all.

Going back to DC has allowed me to feel that I, at least that "I" that is important to me, still exist. All the alienation vanishes. At least, the alienation, from politics and mainstream/mainstream independent culture, remains, but I can integrate, at least, with myself, with life itself. That feels nice.

DC 4

Back now.

Woke up earlier but not early. Check out.

Train downtown.

Quick hop into the National Building Museum. Cool exhibit on the Gustavino Company and their, seemingly, previously unheralded importance in creating beautiful, tile-based ceilings for some of the most classic buildings built in America at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. I resist my own middle-class taste sometime, and have been tempted to write a defense of the existing Penn Station in NYC, but there is something really, really exceptionally beautiful about this era of American architecture and design.

After that, the LA exhibit. Drawings and pictures of some cool vernacular architecture but also a lot of mediocre postwar Modern and even International style atrocities. And tract housing. Yikes.

Like the Le Corb exhibit I saw at MOMA, or rather, barely wandered through seething with disgust, I found it a bit, somehow, disingenuous. Aesthetics isolated from political and social context: frustrating. With architecture: immoral.

Then lunch.

I complain about working in restaurants. Most nights, it's actually not that bad. What bugs me is that I just don't want to do it anymore. Have I mentioned that the best thing about the restaurant industry is also the worst? You don't build anything. It's clean, it gets messy, you clean again, and start over. Regardless, I find my job easier to deal with when: a) I feel I can be myself and contribute somehow and, b) I like what I am offering.

Today I had a delicious dessert, on top of an already-indulgent meal at one of my favorite places. Thoughts of my job here in Providence barely crossed my mind while I was away, but they did again after lunch. The dessert I had today was perfectly executed in every way, from preparation to plating, and was $7. The desserts at my restaurant are usually significantly less creative, are smaller, are less fresh, are less delicious, and are generally unsatisfying. They cost $7.

Now I could just say, well, I went to Jaleo, Jose Andres' mecca for Spanish cuisine. A nationally-known and locally-beloved institution. But so what? Is not being good an excuse for not being good? Jaleo is a larger space, yes, and I think the kitchen is open a little later, fine. The ticket averages are higher. So more sales, yes. But the restaurant (I ate at the 7th St. NW location) pays, I'm sure, exponentially higher rent, has a much, much, much larger staff, and shoulders the burden of having higher food costs. So what is my restaurant's excuse?

While I'm distracted. They have been tightening the screws at work. All on the front-of-house staff. Sales tracking. Cameras. Measuring all alcohol pours. Efficiency expert (oh, and the owner with the drug problem and a history of stealing tips is no longer banned from the premises). All this tightening, to try and raise sales, to try and squeeze every little drop out of everything, and dessert sucks. Also the regular food too. I didn't even want dessert when I went into Jaleo, and the bartender didn't have to do anything to sell me dessert. Nothing at all. No pitch. No reverent descriptions. He just handed me the menu. The savory food was so good that I got seduced into it. Didn't want the pleasure to end. The food sells the fucking food. Stop blaming the front of house.


After Jaleo I felt like I was on opium and drifted lazily over to the Hirschhorn. You can buy totebags decrying consumerism now. So I left the shop empty-handed. Most of the museum was cordoned off, being prepared for an exhibit not yet open. So, permanent collection. Dubuffet, Bacon and De Kooning in consecutive rooms. A beautiful Clyfford Still that I don't remember seeing before. Perfect. Happy. What did I say yesterday about Modern art? Who cares.

 Hustle to the West Wing of the National Gallery. Free museums are the best.

I only had forty-five minutes left. Wandered through the Italian rooms. Felt love in my heart. Knew everything was going to be ok. Eventually.

Metro back to hotel to pick up bags. Metro to Union Station. MARC to BWI. Last meal. Plane. Cab. ATM. Driver paid. Bank balance: ouch.

Walked past my restaurant, didn't even think twice about going in to talk to anyone. My life is between me and you. For now.


1 comment:

:-p said...

This is by far one of my most popular posts. What is going on out there? What google search is bringing you to me? I'm sure this is not what you are looking for. What are you looking for?