Yemen Blues: Thursday night saw me at the DC Jewish Community Center to see Yemen Blues perform. This is a fusion band, led by Ravid Kahalani. I’m not entirely sure how one would characterize their music, which is why the "world beat" label is handy. The largest influence is Yemenite (duh), but there are West African rhythms and blues and other jazz forms. The percussion was particularly notable and there was one piece I can best describe as an intriguing battle between Middle Eastern and Latin percussion. There was also some notable oud playing. My one complaint was that the space was not really conducive to movement and this was music that demanded to be danced to. From my Israeli folk dance days, I know that the dancing of Yemenite Jews was traditionally very constrained in space and primarily up and down, with the explanation that the people did not love the land, so they danced as if their feet were on fire. So maybe that was suitable after all. (Actually, I do have another complaint. The concert started 20 minutes late. That’s a lot on a weeknight. But it was good enough that I will forgive them.)
Ordinary Days: Friday night I schlepped to Bethesda to see Ordinary Days, a musical (really a song cycle) by Adam Gwon. It was worth the effort as the show was thoroughly charming. The story involves two pairs of New Yorkers. The best of the characters is the semi-hysterical grad student, Deb, well-played by Erin Weaver. The free-spirited Warren is her foil and helps her to see that there is beauty in the small things in life. The other couple, Jason and Claire, are less satisfying characters. For one thing, he belongs in, say, Iowa and he’s really only in New York because he fell for her. But, more significantly, there is some great trauma that keeps her from letting him in and we don’t find out what the twist is until almost the end of the show. The revelation (in the song "I’ll Be Here") makes her a lot more sympathetic, but I found it hard to believe she’d been with Jason an entire year and not told him about it. But, overall, that’s a minor flaw. The music is lovely. And there is plenty of wit in the lyrics, along with delicious subtle tidbits, e.g. when Deb, who is doing her thesis on Virginia Woolf, makes a reference to having a room of her own. A show like this is a good reminder of why Gwon is considered one of the rising stars of the musical theatre world.
And, look, unlike everyone else in the greater Washington D.C. metropolitan area, I managed to write about the show without using the word "extraordinary!" (But it is.)
Ah, Metro – Last Monday night’s Red Line Haiku Version:
Metro’s web site claims
single tracking starts at 10.
Half hour wait at 9.
Ah, Metro – Friday night’s Haiku Version:
Track fire delayed Blue
Line. Had I known, I would have
taken the yellow.
has the worst escalators
in the whole system.
(Yes, I understand that Metro’s priority is to get people out of the stations. But there was really no reason for both working escalators to be going up at 9:30 at night. Walking down the half mile long non-working escalator is hard on the knees of this grumpy old person.)
The Weekend: I spent much of it sleeping, though I did get some errands done. And I made it to knitting group where I showed off my "it’s not stash, it’s souvenir" yarn purchase from Italy. I have this idea for a patchwork jacket using these odds and ends I have picked up in various places. It will be a while before I start on that project, but I am already referring to it as A Coat of Many Countries. What I actually did was crochet afghan squares because I need to destash a bunch of acrylic and that is a good way to do so. And it is also brainless enough that I can do it while talking.
Moral Dilemma of the Week: Neptune needs a bath. Normally, I look for a group of teenagers doing a car wash for charity. Well, Arlington County has banned charity carwashes because of the impact of run-off on the Chesapeake. Fairfax County has not done so yet, but I do actually care about the Bay. Apparently, commercial carwashes are okay because they have ways to capture grey water. But I still feel like I’d rather have my money going to a school band or the like than to Mr. Wash.
The Prostate Dialogues: Last night’s outing was to see Jon Spelman’s one-man show at Theatre J. I know Jon and I admire his storytelling, so I can’t give this an unbiased review. It’s a brave show, with a surprising amount of humor. In addition to his experience with prostate cancer, the work deals more generally with issues of aging and mortality and what manhood is. I’m not sure how somebody under, say, 50 will react, but I found lots to relate to, even without a prostate. By the way, there was a talk-back, but I didn't stay for it because going out on a weeknight means enough sleep deprivation as it is.
Commute Miracle – the Tuesday morning haiku version:
bus to the Mark Center came at
Some Like It Hot: I like hot weather, but the current heat and humidity, which is reminiscent of Benin, is too much, even for me.
Books and Gelato: Since I was already over at Dupont Circle last night, I stopped in the used bookstore there. And I found a copy of Don Camillo Meets Hell's Angels. I didn't even know about that one. Afterwards, I stopped in at Dolcezza Gelato. The cinnamon was good, but the winner there was the strawberry tarragon, which may be the only good pink thing on the planet.