I must say, after being in Europe for two weeks, I was skeptical that coming back to DC I would be back to my old routine. But turns out that I came back on the right week. Thus far the week has been swell doing some things that are very all American and some things that were a little taste of Europe.
Friday was my first full day back in the states. I had no real plans, assumed that I would end up at the cat. But got a call midday from Jeremy, his voice filled with excitement as he told me there wasn’t one but TWO demolition derby’s in the Metropolitan area. So Friday night I found myself in Manassas for the Prince William County Fair. I had no idea what to expect from the derby. The grandstand looked out on a muddy strip of land with a few large tires thrown about. On the edges of the mud were lined up cars all looking like they were on their last stages of life painted in bright colors and scribbled with peoples names. Turns out that this derby was a cumulation of a week of derbies. All of the cars had already gone through this once and they were now back for more destruction, some held together with chains.
I’m not a fan of violence, never have been, but man, there is something really exciting about watching cars hit each other until they can’t move any more and smoke is rising all around. You start to really root for some cars and against others. You start hoping for a loud wild bang up, to watch the car keep driving although all the tires are busted and the back end is basically now in the front.
After and before the derby we took advantage of all the county fair had to offer. We visited the animals. We listened to a charlatan try to sell us a miracle elixir “my mother had horrible arthritis, she could hardly walk, but she’s been drinking this every day and now she’s running marathons” mmhmm. We ate tons of horrible food (at least we stayed clear of the fried twinkies). We went up in the ferris wheel (which always hits a place in my heart as it reminds me of that great scene in East of Eden). We played games and each won a little something. I have to say, the best part of the night was the lack of cynicism I had. I really expected that I would end up feeling rather cynical about the whole idea of the county fair, being out of my element, being out of the city, being somewhere so cosmopolitan but being there was pure light hearted joy.
Last night I got a fun taste of Europe in DC. Stereo Total was in town promoting their first CD released in the states in a while, Paris-Berlin. The show was at Rock and Roll Hotel so Mark and I decided to make a night of it by eating at the new Belgian restaurant on H street, Dr. Granville Moore’s. The restaurant has no real markings from the street. A small Dr’s sign lit above the door and a handwritten unlit sign in the window. You open the door and enter a dark, comfortable two story bar and restaurant. It seemed many people had the same idea as us and we ended up sitting at the bar on the second floor. The bar is a beautful dark wood and the upstairs looks like you’ve wandered into a bar that was open 100 years ago but hasn’t been touched for years. The paint is chipping, the roof is uncovered wood, the piano in the corner has broken keys. We looked over the bar at the large selection of Belgian beers, drooling.
But we had a wait. They seemed very short staffed and our waiter, although very apologetic and polite, looked like his head was about to explode. Finally we got some beers and a look at the menu. They have a large selection of mussels cooked in all sorts of ways but only three other dishes. The two veggie dishes were an arugala salad and a roasted vegetable sandwich with goat cheese. I happened to have had an arugala salad with goat cheese for lunch so wasn’t very excited about either of the options. The third option was a sausage and that wasn’t right either but luckily the special of the day was a tasty hamburger. We also had frites (though mine were cold and Mark’s just out of the fryer but undercooked) with a garlic aioli and a saffron aioli. Altogether the place was enjoyable (I had the best idea ever there – more on that soon) but I don’t need to eat there again. Next trip will just be for beer – and maybe, if they get them cooked right, the frites.
We walked two blocks down H street to the hotel and arrived during the opening bands set. They were good but I was focused on hearing Stereo Total, I’d been listening to them all day at work, bopping up and down at my desk. When they finally went on they did not disappoint. The band is made of two people the French Françoise Cactus and German Brezel Göring. The music is a pop, electronic, punk with great lyrics (in a combination of French, German and English) and a beat you can’t help but dance to. I also discovered, much to my pleasure, that Françoise, who I have long admired for her cute and yet edgy voice, is actually a female version of Jarvis. She was dressed in an outfit he would have looked great in – stripy jeans, a shiny blue button down shirt, a patterned ascot and velvet jacket – along with a great pair of glasses. I was also thrilled that she read many of her lyrics from a set of well worn notebooks covered with writing that looked like they could have come out of a high schoolers backpack.
It was a great show and the dancing helped work off some of the food that we had devoured before hand. And really there’s something about singing in French I can’t resist. Here’s a little sample of one of their songs in English:
(photo of derby stolen from jeremy’s flickr page)